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Microsoft brings AI to small farmers in India, sharpens focus on healthcare

Microsoft brings AI to small farmers in India, sharpens focus on healthcare
Satya Nadella Photo Credit: Reuters

Satya Nadella-led Microsoft has started working on smart farming and smart healthcare projects in India in co-ordination with the government, news agency IANS reported.

According to the report, the company is helping farmers with small parcels of land by placing sensors in their fields and running artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to ensure high crop yield. 

"We are working with farmers, state governments, the ministry of electronics and information technology and the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare to create an ecosystem for AI," Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari was quoted as saying.

The report further said that the company has claimed that it has done some AI testing with farmers in Telangana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. As part of the tests, these farmers received automated voice calls or messages informing them about pest attacks on their crops (mostly cotton), weather conditions and the crops’ stage of maturity.

Maheshwari was quoted as saying, "There are companies that serve equipment and capabilities for farmers. We are working with most of the stakeholders, like generic crop protection and seeds company United Phosphorus Ltd and engineering conglomerate Escorts to create better AI-based models for farming in the country." Maheshwari added that the United Phosphorus partnership was helping with front-end abilities for farmers.

Microsoft said that Escorts, which is a farm-equipment manufacturer, is using its cloud and AI technology to enable precision agricultural practices.

It further said that it has developed a Cortana-based intelligence suite, which focuses on providing business intelligence in partnership with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat).

Microsoft has also sharpened its focus on smart healthcare.

The firm and Apollo Hospitals have started a heart disease risk score API (application programme interface) powered by AI.

The report also said that Microsoft had partnered with SRL Diagnostics to detect cancer and with Devi Prasad Shetty-led Narayana Health for real-time data analysis.

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