Google has announced that Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence is one of 20 organizations that will share $25 million in grants from Google.org, credit and consulting from Google Cloud and coaching by Google’s AI experts as a grantee of the Google AI Impact Challenge. The Google AI Impact Challenge was an open call to nonprofits, social enterprises, and research institutions from around the world to submit their ideas to use AI to help address societal challenges. Over 2600 organizations applied.
Wadhwani AI will receive a $2M USD grant to create technologies that will help reduce crop losses in cotton farming, through integrated pest management.
More than a billion people live in smallholder farmer households worldwide, and many of these farmers struggle with avoidable pest damage that can wipe out up to 50% of annual crop yield. For example, in India, for the 30 million people – 6 million farmers and their families – that depend on cotton farming for a living, inability to manage pests effectively is one the biggest risks. This, despite the fact that cotton accounts for close to half of India’s pesticide usage.
In Wadhwani AI’s project, AI technology which runs on a basic smartphone, classifies and counts pests based on photos of pest traps taken by farmers and agriculture program workers. This solution can be used to provide millions of farmers with timely, localized advice, reducing crop loss and over-use of pesticides by improving the timing of usage.
In this effort, Wadhwani AI is partnering with the Government of Maharashtra and members of the Better Cotton Initiative. They have facilitated farmer interactions and data collection, and will ultimately be able to integrate the solution into their programs. The project has the potential to develop a template that can be replicated in large-scale agriculture programs worldwide.