KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — Mimos Berhad, a government agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti), is spearheading an initiative to allow Malaysian farmers to have free access to satellite data and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve yields through better use of chemicals and fertilisers.
Mimos, the national information and communications technology (ICT) research and development agency, is teaming up with German crop protection and fertiliser group HELM AG and its local partner, chemical manufacturing group Ancom Nylex Berhad, to apply digital agriculture solutions through a powerful digital agriculture platform called SKYFLD.
In a statement, the two groups said SKYFLD is HELM’s precision farming platform, which enables farmers to map their fields and monitor crop health using satellite data, which will be used to improve yields by targeting fertiliser and crop treatments.
Aside from optimising the use of these inputs, they said that farmers can monitor biomass performance and health to identify and investigate critical zones and take countermeasures.
“This will help farmers to improve their yield while reducing the environmental impact of farming by cutting waste and addressing issues like agricultural run-off,” said Ancom Nylex executive chairman Datuk Siew Ka Wei.
“The rising costs of fertiliser and chemicals have significantly affected farmers’ livelihoods. We believe digital agriculture is one of the ways to improve their sustainability and to ensure sufficient food production and the country’s food security,” he added.
Mimos Berhad president and CEO Iskandar Samad is pictured during the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony at Mimos September 5, 2023. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
With businesses among others in agricultural chemicals, industrial chemicals and chemical logistics, Ancom Nylex is the sole manufacturer of herbicide active ingredients in South-east Asia and one of the only two key manufacturers of ethanol in Malaysia.
HELM chief executive officer Stephan Schnabel said that his company is proud to partner with the Malaysian government agency Mimos.
“With this partnership, we aim to increase agricultural productivity across the country, support farmers and thereby contribute socially and environmentally by reducing the footprint of agriculture.
“Malaysia, with its economic growth and favourable business environment, is a perfect hub for HELM to strengthen its presence in South-east Asia further,” Schnabel said.
Based in Hamburg, Germany, HELM AG is a family-owned company established in 1900 with up to 100 subsidiaries and participations in more than 30 countries. HELM AG also provides satellite services to the agricultural sector in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
This digital agriculture initiative also includes the use of HELM’s mobile crop doctor, the Plantix digital application for farmers to upload photos of sick plants for analysis.
Covering 30 major crops, Plantix uses AI to recognise more than 400 different types of plant pests, diseases, and nutritional deficits to enable farmers and agronomists to farm more efficiently and sustainably.
Plantix is available in 18 languages and has been downloaded more than 10 million times, which makes it the top agricultural app for damage detection, pest and disease control, and yield improvement for farmers worldwide.
Mimos had earlier today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HELM AG and Ancom Nylex on the provision of the latest satellite technology and AI technology to Malaysian farmers to support food security.
Mimos, HELM AG and Ancom Nylex will share their expertise and roll out a local pilot phase to ensure quality assurance across crops, regions, among other criteria across the country.
Data collected will be treated with confidentiality and in compliance with government guidelines.
The results from the first phase of this partnership will be reviewed by the first quarter of 2024.