IoT-Based Smart Agriculture in Malaysia for Poverty

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SEATTLE, Washington — Like most developing nations, Malaysia is a southeastern Asian country that has been using agriculture as one of its principal economic activities for poverty reduction and stability. According to the World Bank, 78% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their living. Not only that, but the sector is increasingly under pressure to meet the consumer demand of the growing population. These two reasons make it crucial to improve the efficiency, productivity and optimization of agricultural techniques. IoT-based smart agriculture in Malaysia aims to improve the agricultural sector and improve poverty in the region overall.

IoT Smart Agriculture for Malaysia

In an attempt to achieve an economy of scale and to generate higher income for farmers, Malaysia has chosen to implement smart agriculture through the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. IoT is an innovative solution that helps rural farmers boost their operations in many ways. It provides real-time data that can reduce the risk of crop failure, increase crop yields, reduce fertilizer usage and water consumption, therefore decreasing production costs and increasing profitability and sustainable practices.

For decades, the government has been making a substantial and sustained investment. At first, the government followed a market-oriented approach, then pursued primary infrastructure for the agricultural and the rural sector, and is now trying to enhance smart farming to correct wealth distribution and reduce the disparity between income classes, regions and supply chains. These efforts have contributed to poverty reduction and have fed a population that has expanded in the last 70 years from 8 million to approximately 32 million people. Unlike many governments in developing countries, the government of Malaysia reinvests a significant portion of its revenues into agricultural transformation. By 2025, through the implementation of 5G technology, which includes IoT, Malaysia is expected to add approximately $3 billion to its GDP, creating around 39.000 new jobs.

Private-Public Collaboration

Despite the low productivity and the limited technological and institutional capabilities, there is a lot of collaboration between the government and the private sector, who have made considerable progress in the past two decades to strengthen the management of the research and innovation system. In this sense, agricultural transformation is happening through dedicated agencies that are exploring and guiding the application of IoT-based agriculture. Malaysia is backed by a relatively highly developed information and communication technology infrastructure, which has provided internet connectivity almost all over the territory. However, to effectively implement IoT-based smart agriculture in Malaysia, institutions must keep supporting the digital revolution and the introduction of smart technology through the installation of big data systems with which the IoT can develop.

The Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS) has built several initiatives such as an agricultural framework that links producers, traders and suppliers in an IoT unified system to make agricultural development thrive. This framework employs a wireless sensor that logs environmental data and cloud software that automatically can detect and neutralize threats.

Applications and Benefits

The agricultural sector will be dominant in the future and by using IoT-based smart agriculture in Malaysia, the sector can be diversified and reduce the reliance on palm oil. Agriculture will be the principal beneficiary of IoT, through smart farming and precision agriculture. This technology has made the agricultural sector advance to the point that it can cope with the lack of land, labor shortages and rising costs faced today in Malaysia.

How IoT-based Smart Agriculture in Malaysia Looks

  • Malaysian manufactured drones are collecting tomatoes
  • Students are designing algorithms that help sort vegetables by quality and weight
  • Driverless combiner harvester
  • Driverless tractor collecting the harvest and transporting it to warehouses
  • Warehouses automatically controlled for temperature and humidity
  • Moisture and nutrient content of the soil being measured for each plant by satellites and robotic drones providing real-time images and data
  • Cows are being monitored through smart devices that promote maximum production
  • Apps providing full support for the management and control of smart devices

Agricultural transformation depends on these technologies to boost productivity. This development has been prioritized to address poverty, inequality and instability. These technologies indeed require huge investment, but incremental revenue and profits, as well as the social and environmental impact, justifies it.

Malaysia: An Example to Learn from

Malaysia is an example of the importance of a competent public sector. To achieve development results, by investing in the transformation of agriculture, it is addressing extreme poverty and has established growth with equity. The nation is taking the necessary steps to upgrade this new emerging ecosystem fueled by IoT-based smart agriculture. Malaysia is focusing on a full shift from extensive farming to an environmentally and socially sustainable intensive farming system that will promote significant gains in productivity. These technologies are the solution for water scarcity, population growth, changing weather and the increase in consumption. IoT-based smart agriculture is an innovative investment that developing countries should pursue to address food insecurity and poverty.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

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