AI helps shrimp farmers navigate pandemic
By Nestor Arellano
By Nestor Arellano
Quarantines, lock downs, and physical distancing have severely disrupted the aquaculture industry. However, some shrimp farmers in India have found a way to stay connected with their buyers thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).
As early as March this year, AquaConnect, a technology start-up based in Chennai, India, had rolled out an emergency helpline for shrimp and fish farmers. By dialing 72999 10993, the farmers gain access to information and services such as farm-gate price fluctuations, offline farming support, availability and transportation of seed and farm inputs.
This helpline number is also a support centre. It provides users the latest government announcements and messages relevant to the aquaculture sector during the lockdown.
“We witness that there are confusions among farmers around the recent lock-down announcement from Government of India due to COVID-19 outbreak,” Rajamanohar Somasundaram, chief executive officer and founder of AquaConnect, told Businessworld.
One of the main problems was the availability of transportation. Without it, feeds and other supplies could not reach the farms. Information about the pandemic was everywhere, however, determining which sources were reliable and what information was authentic was difficult.
Somasundaram said his company had industry experts who constantly monitored government orders and announcements. AquaConnect also partnered with fish farm technicians, farmers and processors to gain a clear picture of the situation which they could share to farmers through the helpline.
In order to push the information AquaConnect used a data-driven, mobile app which it developed long before the pandemic.
FarmMOJO was designed as a shrimp farm productivity and traceability app. It helps shrimp farmers manage pond water quality, feeding information, growth rate and other information right in their mobile devices rather than in paper-based ledgers.
“Our AI advisor records production data, such as water quality parameters, feed inputs, health status and biomass conversion,” Somasundaram told ElectronicsB2B.com. “Collected data is analysed on a real-time basis, and advisory services are offered to farmers regarding their pond operations.”
The app alerts farmer about pond parameters that are falling below optimal levels. For example, FarmMOJO helps farmers maintain ideal biomass conversion levels. The app does this by monitoring feed conversion ratios and suggesting necessary actions when non-optimal ratio is observed.
During the lock down, FarmMOJO was used by shrimp farmers as a physical distancing tool. The app helped them avoid frequent visits to shrimp farms. The farmers relied on free mobile advisories provided by FarmMOJO. The app kept farmers updated on farm operations remotely.