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NEC Laboratories India & Tamil Nadu Agricultural University sign MoU to co-create newer agri-tech solutions to improve agri output

- To create solutions for agricultural issues using Artificial Intelligence and Analytics- Partnership aimed at benefiting farmers, agri input providers and solving social challenges

India, April 6th 2022: NEC Laboratories India (NLI), an entity of NEC Corporation India - a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), to create newer solutions to resolve agricultural issues using analytics and AI. The signing of this MoU with TNAU marks NLI’s first partnership in the ‘agri-tech’ space in India.

Since its establishment in 2018, NLI has been developing digital transformation solutions to transform the industries in India and other countries.

Through this co-creation partnership, NEC aims to create a solution which helps identify major crop disease and deficiency categories, and provide appropriate remedies via Agri experts. NLI will develop a mobile app with AI/ML capability, while TNAU shall provide expert guidance and assist in data collection activity to detect diseases in this collaboration. By combining the best of both parties, early detection of disease onset through artificial intelligence can be achieved, and farmers will be able to take remedial actions promptly.

NEC aims to cover majorly impacted crops within India, with enhanced accuracy over the next 12 months.

According to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), farmers globally lose up to 40% of their crops to insects and diseases every year, costing industries in excess of USD 70 billion. Similarly in India, the agriculture sector faces significant crop yield variations, which are aggravated by increased weather fluctuations (climate change), plant diseases, macro-economic developments and other uncertainties.

Today, the Indian agriculture industry faces various problems, all of which result in severe crop losses of up to 30-60% of the annual harvests. The primary reasons for loss of harvest are:

  • Diseases, resulting in loss of 15-25% of potential crop output.
  • Soil nutrient deficiency - 36.5% of soils today are deficient in most of the 21 required mineral nutrients.
  • Insects & pests, reducing crop yield for 5 major food crops by 10% to 40% globally.

The on-site solution helps farmers to increase the yield and minimise crop loss by accurately recognizing crop diseases at an early stage; providing an efficient and immediate advisory system; and monitoring growth through a constant supply of information on what to do to maintain crop health through the various phases of growth.

The MoU was signed virtually by Dr. Keiji Yamada, SVP & Head, NEC Laboratories India, and Dr. A.S. Krishnamoorthy, Acting Vice Chancellor & the Registrar, TNAU, Coimbatore, in the presence of Dr. K.S. Subramanian, Director of Research, and Dr. K. Prabakar, Director (Centre for Plant Protection Studies).

Dr. Subramanian, Director of Research said, “India is a predominantly agricultural economy, and farmers today face a wide array of problems in the field that need to be addressed instantly. With the signing of this MoU, the university intends to use AI for the early detection of pests and diseases, and it is our honour to be joining hands with NEC Laboratories India and the NEC Group. Their decades of deep-tech expertise and problem-solving capabilities for both critical social problems, as well as industrial challenges, makes them an ideal technology partner for this endeavour”.

Dr. Keiji Yamada, SVP & Head, NEC Laboratories India, said, “Over several decades of our journey, we have witnessed the exponential growth and adoption of technology that has made our lives easier and safer. We are proud to be partnering with TNAU in new ways of applying AI and Analytics to resolve crucial issues in agriculture in real time. This partnership is critical and timely because, apart from being an agricultural society at large, India is also the second largest food producer in the world. India’s importance in the global food supply chain necessitates the deployment of immediate and effective measures that can anticipate and address challenges ahead of time”.

NEC has a product called Cropscope and is looking to provide further value to farmers through this activity. The initial solution idea for crop disease detection using AI was conceived through NEC’s hackathon on Agri-tech – Food wastage, which was conducted in partnership with Infobridge Holdings at Bengaluru in December 2019. Similar hackathons that NEC organised in India have been instrumental in identifying key social challenges and developing relevant solutions, across domains.

About Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, is one of the best State Agricultural Universities in the country, an emblem of excellence in academics, research and extension activities since its inception in 1909. The University is well known for the development of more than 900 crop varieties, 1500 farming technologies and 190 farm machineries that enabled enhanced productivity of crops and ensured rural livelihood. The university serves as the torchbearer of several innovative technologies encompassing biotechnology, nanotechnology, geoinformatics, customized agri-inputs, e-extension and lot more. This AI based solution is going to be yet another feather to its cap.

About NEC Laboratories India (NLI)

NEC Laboratories India (NLI) was established in 2018 as the sixth overseas research centre of NEC Corporation. Our primary focus is on research and development (R&D) of social solutions and for digital transformation in developing countries such as India. For their applied research and social solution development, they use the AI and system platform technologies invented by the NEC laboratories and implement the solutions in India through open innovation collaboration with top Indian universities, governmental agencies, and enterprise partners. Their goal is to enhance the efficiency and productivity of the entire value chain in an industry, rather than improving only a part of the existing industry.

About NEC Corporation India (NEC India)
NEC is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies and brings more than 121 years of expertise in technological innovation to provide solutions for empowering people, businesses, and society. Headquartered in Japan, NEC started operations in India in the 1950s, accelerating its growth through the expansion of business to global markets. NEC in India expanded its business from telecommunications to public safety, logistics, transportation, retail, finance, unified communication, and IT platforms, serving across governments, businesses as well as individuals. With its Centre of Excellence for analytics platform solutions, big data, biometrics, mobile and retail, NEC in India offers innovative new services and solutions for India and global markets.

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