‘Harvesting Data’: Latin American AI Startups Revolutionise Farming

In a transformative shift propelled by technological innovation, a new wave of Latin American startups is reshaping the agricultural landscape through the application of artificial intelligence (AI).

With a focus on leveraging AI to enhance productivity, mitigate risks, and foster sustainability, these startups are heralding a farming revolution in key agricultural powerhouses like Brazil, where traditional practices are being augmented by cutting-edge technology.

Aline Oliveira Pezente, a pioneering entrepreneur from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, recognized a pressing need within the farming industry for more efficient risk assessment and credit allocation.

Motivated by this insight, she co-founded Traive, a startup that harnesses AI to analyze vast amounts of agriculture-related data, providing lenders with comprehensive risk assessments and farmers with improved access to credit.

By streamlining the risk analysis process, Traive has facilitated financial operations worth nearly $1 billion and garnered clients ranging from agro-industry giants like Syngenta to Latin America’s leading bank, Banco do Brasil.

At the recent Rio de Janeiro edition of Web Summit, dubbed “Davos for Geeks,” Aline presented Traive’s groundbreaking work alongside fellow entrepreneur Alejandro Mieses, underscoring the transformative potential of AI in agriculture.

Mieses, representing his Puerto Rico-based startup TerraFirma, highlighted the development of AI models that utilize satellite imagery to forecast environmental risks, from natural disasters to crop diseases, empowering farmers to make informed decisions and mitigate potential threats.

The adoption of AI in agriculture extends beyond risk assessment, encompassing a diverse range of applications aimed at enhancing productivity and sustainability. From self-driving tractors to drones that monitor crop health, AI-driven innovations are revolutionizing farming practices worldwide. However, the efficacy of AI models is contingent upon access to robust datasets, posing challenges in data collection and processing for farmers globally.

Despite these challenges, the potential of AI to address pressing agricultural issues, including climate change mitigation and sustainable food production, is increasingly recognized.

Mariana Vasconcelos, CEO of Brazilian startup, Agrosmart, emphasized the role of technology in achieving a balance between agricultural productivity and environmental stewardship.

By harnessing AI to manage climate risks and optimise resource utilisation, Agrosmart is at the forefront of promoting a more sustainable and environmentally conscious approach to farming.

As the world population approaches ten billion by 2050, the imperative to produce more food with fewer resources underscores the critical role of technology in shaping the future of agriculture.

While concerns persist regarding the environmental impact of agricultural expansion, proponents of AI-driven solutions argue that technology offers a pathway to sustainable and regenerative farming practices.

The burgeoning ecosystem of Latin American AI startups exemplifies the fusion of innovation and tradition in modern agriculture.

As these startups continue to pioneer AI-driven solutions, they hold the potential to not only revolutionise farming practices but also to usher in a new era of sustainability and resilience in the face of evolving global challenges.

Jessica Bayley

Jessica Bayley is an international author and journalist. She covers global affairs, hard news, lifestyle, politics, technology and is also the author of "The Ladies of Belgium."