For using AI to transform agriculture—and respond to COVID-19
While visiting Pueblo Viejo in his home country of the Dominican Republic, Eddy Alvarado witnessed firsthand how farmers were losing much of their crops to disease and the devastating toll these losses took on their families and the community. A computer scientist who specializes in data science, Alvarado started looking at artificial intelligence (AI) as a potential solution.
In 2017, he launched Agro360 with a pilot project aimed at using AI to help farmers in poor communities increase the productivity of their crops, reduce the impact of disease and lessen their reliance on chemicals.
“I decided to take my knowledge in data science and AI to build something that could help those farmers to be resilient and more productive,” Alvarado says.
Alvarado was also driven by a big-picture reality: The problems in Pueblo Viejo weren’t an anomaly. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as much as 40 percent of global food production is lost due to pests and crop disease, which, in turn, instigates chronic hunger and malnutrition.
“Agro360 made me understand that many times we are developing our society focused on ephemeral things without paying attention to the assurance of fundamentals such as food sustainability, health and comprehensive education,” Alvarado says.