Case Study: Syngenta Harnesses AI for Sustainable Agriculture

Background

Syngenta, a global leader in the agriculture sector, is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and has a significant presence in over 90 countries, including the Asia Pacific region. The company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of seeds and crop protection solutions. Recognizing the potential of digital technologies, Syngenta embarked on a transformative journey, shifting its ERP systems to the cloud and integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into its operations. This initiative was spearheaded by leaders like Christian Bayer, Global Head of ERP/SAP and Data and Analytics at Syngenta, and Chris Chen, Head of Digital Transformation at Syngenta Asia Pacific.

Key Takeaways

  • Syngenta has strategically transitioned towards a cloud-first IT approach, with a major part of its operations now hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • The introduction of AI-driven tools, particularly Syngenta’s mobile application, has led to groundbreaking changes in agriculture, offering real-time pest and disease diagnosis to farmers.
  • By harnessing vast and diverse datasets, including satellite imagery and weather predictions, Syngenta’s AI solutions can provide detailed forecasts, directly addressing global issues such as food security and climate change.
  • Syngenta places a strong emphasis on understanding and effectively addressing the unique challenges and needs of farmers in the APAC region.
  • The company’s vision for the future of agriculture is rooted in the concept of precision farming, which will be realized through the continuous integration and application of AI and other digital technologies.

Deep Dive

Approach

Syngenta’s approach to AI is holistic, aiming to transform the entire agricultural ecosystem. The company leverages AI-driven solutions to usher in a new era for agriculture, optimizing crop yields, diagnosing crop diseases in real-time, and ensuring precise application of crop protection products. Their strategy is to provide on-demand advice, driven by AI, and to make this knowledge exchange rapid and extensive, transcending traditional proximity-based knowledge sharing among farmers.

Implementation

One of the flagship AI-driven tools is Syngenta’s mobile app, which offers real-time pest and disease diagnosis. The app uses AI-enabled image recognition to identify issues and recommend solutions in real-time. It also geotags these issues, alerting nearby farmers about potential threats. Moreover, Syngenta has plans to extend its natural language model to farmer communications within the app by 2024. Apart from this, the company has integrated other emerging digital technologies, such as IoT and satellite imagery, to reshape agricultural practices.

Results

The results of integrating AI have been transformative for Syngenta. Their mobile application, CROPWISE(TM) Grower, has garnered over half a million registered users, with its real-time snap-and-detect feature being one of the most used. The app has empowered farmers with timely and accurate interventions, optimizing crop yields and reducing resource wastage. Additionally, their shift to the cloud has resulted in cost savings of 28% per year, with the ROI achieved in just one and a half years.

Challenges and Barriers

Implementing AI and digital technology solutions in the Asia Pacific posed unique challenges for Syngenta. The region is characterized by the predominance of smallholder farmers, fragmented land ownership, and a deep reliance on traditional methods. Infrastructure and accessibility, especially in rural areas, presented hurdles, with challenges like limited internet connectivity and basic infrastructure issues. There’s also the aspect of building trust among farmers who have relied on age-old practices for generations.

Future Outlook

Syngenta envisions a future where traditional farming practices transition to precision agriculture, powered by the continuous integration of AI and digital technologies. They foresee real-time monitoring becoming the norm, detecting issues like pest infestations at nascent stages. The company also recognizes the importance of data privacy, ensuring that their data collection and usage adhere to the highest standards of privacy and security. For tech startups looking to make an impact in the agricultural sector, Syngenta advises understanding the unique needs of the APAC farmers and focusing on scalability and customization.

Sources:
Syngenta Asia Pacific’s Chris Chen on how AI and digital solutions are reshaping agriculture in the region
Syngenta Aims to Make its SAP ERP as Reliable as Water from a Tap


Let’s talk

Whether you’re looking for expert guidance on AI transformation or want to share your AI knowledge with others, our network is the place for you. Let’s work together to build a brighter future powered by AI.