How agritech is creating an urban farming ecosytem
Modern farming relies heavily on agritech today. From using technologies like blockchain to measure the food supply chain, to having IoT sensors placed in the ground to test the quality of soil, these technologies have made farming easier for many farmers around the world.
India, which produces 25% of the world’s pulses, is also the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, groundnuts, and other essential food. While other nations in the Asia Pacific region also produce food for the global population, rapid development has led to a decrease in agricultural activities in some areas.
To ensure sustainability and availability of food, urban farming is growing in popularity in most urban areas. With the global urban farming market expected to reach US$ 236.4 billion by 2023, community gardening tools and home gardens are generating more revenue for small-scale farmers today. Urban Agriculture produces 20% of the world’s food keeping engaged everyone in urban farming globally.
According to the UN World Food Program, a square meter area can provide potentially 20 kg of food per year. Moreover, urban farming is seen as a possible solution for the effects of climate change by providing green infrastructure options and consequently, it can play an important role in global food security.
In APAC, most urban cities often have little space for farming, especially in countries like Singapore. With minimal land available for farming, most farmers in Singapore opt for next-generation urban farms.
Urban farming in Singapore
Today, technology is enabling the development of next-generation urban farms like AbyFarm, a local agritech player. AbyFarm is a Singapore-based agri-tech company with a fully integrated unmanned self-sustainable smart farm-to-table platform. Aby Farm uses intelligent AI cloud-driven machinery — IOT, sensors, machinery, blockchain, data analysis, high-tech self-regulating farming system to attain high yield, high sustainability, and high traceability for food security.
AbyFarm collaborated with SPTel, an IoT-as-a-Service provider to address some of the challenges in agritech, especially in sourcing and identifying appropriate applications, sensors, and technologies. Most farms often end up using multiple IoT devices from different vendors, with hefty investments made on multiple platforms.
SPTel’s platform addresses these challenges with its multi-protocol platform that provides an integrated platform for urban farms to monitor and manage various sensors and applications, regardless of their gateway deployment requirements. The integrated platform allows urban farms to connect IoT sensors that can transmit data for key variables that affect plant health and growth, such as temperature, humidity, and nutrient levels.
“As urban farms become a vital component of Singapore’s ‘30 by 30’ vision, IoT technology will continue to prevail as a core enabler of smart farming in Singapore. Enabling smart urban farms such as Abyfarm to leverage IoT to reduce manpower requirements and improve crop yield will be critical to the long-term success of Singapore’s urban farming program,” said Susan Loh, VP, Marketing and Business Development, SPTel.
An agritech ecosystem
The platform also enables urban farms to connect additional IoT sensors with ease as they expand, allowing the farmer to retain centralized control of all devices and applications on the platform. In addition, through SPTel’s extensive network of secure hubs across the island, urban farms can leverage a ready IoT platform with island-wide reach for fast deployment across multiple sites.
“SPTel’s IoT-as-a-service solution for sensor data collection and analysis allows us to track multiple sensors simultaneously. Through this deployment, we can become a sustainable self-regulating urban farm with IoT, automation, and crop blockchain ledger that enables farm-to-table traceability for improved food safety and security,” said Phoebe Xie, Abyfarm Director, and Co-Founder.
Singapore’s Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment has outlined its goal for the island nation to produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030. Known as the “30 by 30” strategy, the vision would require a combination of factors, such as adequate spaces for urban farming and an increase in production, which is dependent on the adoption and deployment of technology.