With a couple billion more people estimated to join the global population in the next few decades, world food production could use an upgrade. Africa has a key role to play: Agriculture is Africa’s biggest industry, but much of Africa’s agricultural land is currently underutilized. Crop yields could be increased with more efficient farming techniques and new equipment — but that would require investment capital, which is often an obstacle for farmers.
A new research collaboration at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) aims to address this challenge with data. The group plans to use data from technologically advanced farms to better predict the value of intervention in underperforming farms. Ultimately, the goal is to create a platform for sharing data and risk among invested parties, from farmers and lenders to insurers and equipment manufacturers.