An "oracle" of artificial intelligence that advises farmers via chat

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A revolutionary new artificial intelligence system, called Demeter, provides agroclimatic forecasts. To consult it, it is enough to resort to a user interface in the form of a chatbot, which greatly simplifies its use. Any farmer, without needing computer skills, can ask Melisa, which is what this chatbot is called.

Melisa chatbot is accessible on Whatsapp, Facebook and Telegram.

Demeter and Melisa have been created and made available to the public by the Alliance of Bioversity International (ABI) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT):

The system is currently focused on Colombia, but its expansion to other nations is expected.

“It all started in 2014, when CIAT began a project with the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Environment for the development of a website that would make it possible to consult the agroclimatic bulletins that were generated from the agroclimatic technical tables of the regions. Three years later, we launched the Aclimate Colombia agroclimatic forecasting platform, which allows peasants and farmers to consult rainfall predictions in these times of climate change. Now, in 2022, we launch Demeter. It is an artificial intelligence system that offers long-term weather prediction, as well as potential crop yield prediction for rice and corn, based on weather conditions. And we put Melisa chatbot into service”, explains Steven Sotelo, researcher in the Data Science for Action against Climate Change area of ​​the ABI and CIAT.

The platform obtains the weather forecasts from the Aclimate Colombia service, and to consult it, it is accessed through the Melisa chatbot. It works as if it were just another WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram contact. In the chat we can ask Melisa Chatbot, for example, what is the weather forecast for Palmira? above historical averages.

You can also ask him what would be the yield of rice crops if a farmer sows in Cereté, Córdoba, and Melisa chatbot will answer that in clay soil and depending on the rain forecast, the farmer will be able to obtain an average of six tons per hectare.

Example of a user query to Melisa through Whatsapp. (Photo: Alliance of Bioversity International / CIAT

In other words, Melisa chatbot is capable of interpreting the information needs that users have and searching for this information in the Aclimate system, to finally return an answer to users. The Aclimate agroclimatic forecasting platform generates forecasts on how much it will rain and how many tons of rice and corn a farmer would get based on the date they plant, the variety of seed they use and the amount of rainfall. At the moment, the departments available for these consultations are Casanare, Córdoba, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Huila, Meta, Sucre, Santander and Cesar.

“In conclusion, Melisa chatbot is a tool that seeks to help the farmer make the best decision when planting. That is why it came about: the objective of Melisa chatbot is to interpret the simple and clear way in which citizens communicate with respect to the climate, and also the technical language of farmers, to offer in both cases agroclimatic forecasts and be a support in the making decisions when planting”, adds researcher Steven Sotelo.

In a longer-term future, the idea is that Melisa chatbot can be consulted in areas where the internet is of low quality, so the tool will also reach other platforms such as SMS (text messaging).

“If farmers and rural communities can access and understand weather and climate forecasts, and have a clear idea of ​​how these influence their crop production and markets, they can make better decisions. Chatbots like Melisa appear as an opportunity to provide desired information and to be able to adapt to market trends and technologies. They are tools that offer the flexibility to answer specific questions from farmers and deliver relevant information for decision-making related to the production of their crops”, concludes Steven.

How to access Melissa

At the moment, Melisa is available on Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram. Users must search for Melissa on these platforms or add her as one of their contacts. Once they are within their contacts, they can talk to Melisa through the chat applications on the platforms.

Whatsapp: Add the number +57 310 418 6995 or click on the following link:

Telegram: Add Melisa chatbot from the search engine.


(Source: ABI / CIAT)

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Written by Editor TLN

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