Agriculture is vital to Malaysia, contributing between 7% and 12% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2018, the industry contributed RM99.5 billion (7.3%) to the country’s GDP. But the outbreak of the pandemic has resulted in the sector reporting an estimated income loss of RM0.5 billion this year compared with last year.
Dr Ahmad Safuan Bujang, deputy director of the smart and precision farming programme under the engineering research centre of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), says that conventional agriculture requires a lot of skill and understanding, not only of the elements involved, but also the actions needed to produce a good crop.
“Smart farming allows us to quantify the variables that exist on your land or farming operation, such as soil fertility, weather patterns, temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind speed,” says Ahmad Safuan. “With these sensors in place, you will be able to digitally acquire all of this information and put it into a system to monitor and study. This is the lowest level of tech adoption and as you go up the tech ladder, you will be able to have a system that facilitates what you do on the field.”
“And if you go further up the ladder, you could develop algorithms or models to help you predict the best options that you have based on the market data, weather data and historical data, helping you decide on things such as what are the best crops to plant and when to harvest.”
Theedgemarkets.com also reports Ahmad Safuan saying how MARDI aims to modernise agricultural processes through the application of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) principles that will allow the processes to be flexible, customisable and robust. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and actuators deployed in a smart agricultural system allow modern farmers to efficiently monitor plant growth and sustainably apply agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides.