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Penang Smart City and Sarawak Smart Agriculture Initiatives with IBM
September 12, 2019 News


If you love pineapples, you will love the pineapples from Sarawak. Sarawak pineapples such as the Moris, Josapine and Gandul are reaching high prices in supermarkets in Malaysia. In fact, Sarawak is set to be the hub for premium pineapples in Malaysia.

With the growing demand for Sarwakaian pineapples, the supply needs to be sufficient too. While farmers are trying their best to produce enough harvest to meet the demands, it can still be challenging at times.

This is where IBM comes in. Following the signing of an MOU with the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), IBM will leverage its blockchain and AI technology to help farmers reach the full potential of their harvests.

According to Catherine Lian, IBM Malaysia Country Manager, IBM will provide AI to improve the income of farmers as well as enable them to reach out to other markets.

“Pineapple is the bubble tea of Sarawak. Oil palm may bring in more revenue, but there is a lot of competition. Our IBM Watson Decision Platform will help farmers use data from satellites, on weather, IoT on soil and topography on their farming. With over 10TB of data generated daily, farmers will be able to make full use of the information made available to them.”

She added that 50% of the small farmers in Sarawak contribute 15% to the state’s GDP and many of them have less than an acre of land.

But how are farmers going to get data from IBM Watson? Can they afford such technology?

Catherine explained that this is where the Sarawak government’s role comes in. SMA will provide the training and education to the farmers as well as provide them with grants for this adoption. With proper reskilling and infrastructure, Catherine believes this will change the whole ecosystem in Sarawak.

Although they are still in their preliminary stages of testing, the model has already been used in other parts of the world. In Thailand, a similar model is used for farmers in their rice harvest as well.

For blockchain in farming, Catherine said IBM is still at a developing stage as to how to run agronomic data. Agronomic data will look at crop health, soil moisture levels, risk forecast and commercial index. IBM hopes to run their technology with the farming communities on these.

In Sarawak, SMA is also looking at blockchain to optimise supply chain in its agriculture sector. This includes to track food supply, reduce contamination and other anomalies that can actually plug in the food supply chain.

“The data sought in blockchain can actually be sorted to output into our IBM Watson Decision Platform. I feel this would support decisions by the farmers.”

Meanwhile, over in Penang, IBM is also collaborating with the local council government of the state, MBPP, to provide tech guidance to them, especially in smart city initiatives.

“We collaborated with our local partner to power manage and activate our IBM intelligence operation center (IOC). IOC is used by the enforcement team in Penang to demonstrate how they can collect data from its censors and CCTVs across the island to detect patterns and trends in the data. We provide all the project knowledge to the officers to use this IOC dashboard.”

As a partner, Catherine said IBM supports them in traffic mobility, traffic management, flood mitigation and urban planning.

“Penang 2030 is a vision of the state government. And we are part of their consultants in their Penang Digital City initiative.”

When asked if IBM has plans to work with other states as well, Catherine explained that they have been receiving a lot of requests. At this point of time though, IBM is looking to drive smart initiatives within Kuala Lumpur itself.

It seems like we’ll just have to wait and find out soon.