So data science has taken the field against poverty

So data science has taken the field against poverty

From EMPA and BASE an App that gives small farmers in rural India advice on how to keep their food fresh and when to sell it

An illustration of the help of a Swiss app to preserve food
An illustration of the help of a Swiss app to preserve food

War on Poverty. In January 2021 theEMPA e BASE (Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy) were among the winners of the prestigious “Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge” di data.org, a platform for partnerships committed to building the field of data science for the 'social impact.
In their design, the Swiss team is developing amobile application which aims to give small farmers in theRural India advice on how keep better their fresh food and when sell them.
After eight months of project, the team has partnered with suppliers of cooling solutions, he collected open source data for India and developed digital food twins.

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A basket of mangoes and the mathematical representation of the exotic fruit
A basket of mangoes and the mathematical representation of the exotic fruit

Up to a third of food is wasted in the great Asian country

THEIndia is one of the most large food producers of the world. However, the insufficient possibilities di refrigeration and other bottlenecks in the supply chain they cause one waste to a third of the food produced, a loss estimated at billions of dollars.
Only the 6 percent of foods passes through the cold chain, compared to about the 60 percent in Developed countries. The situation is particularly problematic for i small farmers, who are the main contributors to the Indian food production.

Barrier financial, technological and knowledge prevent these farmers to access sustainable cooling solutions to save food, and secure theirs livelihoods.
To address this challenge, EMPA and BASE are developing amobile application ad open access, Based on the data science, to give to small farmers access to sustainable cooling facilities, pre- and post-harvest expertise and market information.
The application, “Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant” (YourVCCA), includes various data such as weather and climate data, satellite imagery, geographic location data, fresh produce yields, cold storage thermo-hygro sensor data, expected shelf life of products, and market prices in real time.
Equipping smallholders with appropriate data, the project aims to improve the Food safety, increase incomes of small owners, reduce food loss e minimize the impact of food production on global climate.

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Thijs Defraeye of the EMPA Biomimetic Membrane and Tissue Laboratory
Thijs Defraeye of the EMPA Biomimetic Membrane and Tissue Laboratory

Access to cooling systems and information

A decisive way to face access of small farmers to cooling systems is that of therelaunch partnerships with cooling solution providers.
One of the partners provides cooling services in a market visited by about 500 small farmers.
This project, which serves as a pilot for YourVCCA, will collect hygrothermal data and usage and will provide information on optimal conditions di storage expected duration of the crops.
The team of entirely Swiss project aims to collect datasets and consolidate them into one multilayer map of India, showing i storage sites of the most promising cold rooms in the country.

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Jackfruit (from Portuguese jaca) or catala (name derived from bangla kathal) is the largest tree fruit in the world and grows in India and Bangladesh
Jackfruit (from Portuguese jaca) or catala (name derived from bangla kathal) is the largest tree fruit in the world and grows in India and Bangladesh

Machine learning model for classifying fruits

At the same time, theeffectiveness of YourVCCA, including a model of automatic learning based on images for classify fruits after harvest.
Also, the project team is developing visual food twins e physics-based who predict the shelf life expected of preserved fruit in real time.

 

“At EMPA, we actually predict how long a product can be stored and how small farmers should store these products to make them last as long as possible”, says the EMPA researcher Thijs Defraeye, expert of data science.
these food twins they are about to be put available to farmers and cooling service providers via a web-based platform or through a executable version which can work on mobile devices.
In YourVCCA, These ones food twins and their predictions about shelf life are combined with the predictions of the market prices to educate farmers about best moment for sell their products.

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Seraina Schudel, researcher at EMPA St. Gallen
Seraina Schudel, researcher at EMPA St. Gallen, studying food waste

YourVCCA is the virtual trainer for storing food

“We designed YourVCCA as a sort of virtual coach advising users on how to store their products, how much quality is still there and when they should sell”, he adds Defraeye. Currently, the project team is working on a preliminary architecture ofuser interface di YourVCCA. Her ease of use both for the small farmers that for suppliers of cooling systems it will be tested in the coming months.
“Progress is very promising”, says Defraeye. “If we can harness the data, we can save much more food, which would benefit both local communities and the climate. We all know the technology is there, but currently the solutions are not tailored to serve smallholder farmers, because the financial incentive to do so is simply less than that of large farms.”

Video, the Swiss App arrives to reduce food waste

An elderly farmer in rural India confronted with fruit production
An elderly farmer in rural India confronted with fruit production