Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Yumaklı: We Will Utilize Artificial Intelligence Where the Human Element Falls Short

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Ibrahim Yumaklı, stated that they closely monitor the role of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector, emphasizing the necessity of utilizing artificial intelligence to reach accurate decision-making mechanisms and outcomes.

The AI Tomorrow Summit 2024, held this year under the slogan “We are in the Future,” continues at the Ankara Bilkent Hotel and Conference Center.

During his speech on the second day of the event, Yumaklı expressed that they are discussing a topic that will shape the world and emphasized their desire for young people to be present in the agricultural sector, as in many other sectors.

Yumaklı pointed out the rapid change and transformation occurring worldwide, emphasizing the significant role of technology and productivity in this transformation. He stated their intention to closely follow technological developments and integrate them into the Ministry and agricultural production.

Highlighting that natural resources are not infinite, Yumaklı said, “Therefore, we work with the awareness of passing this legacy to our younger generation in a healthy way. Like all over the world, productivity is a driving force in rural development for us. We can establish the connection between scarce resources and productivity only and only with technology. Therefore, you must use artificial intelligence to reach the right decision-making mechanism for achieving the right results.”

“I invite young people to participate in these programs” Yumaklı mentioned that significant projects are supported through R&D programs and will continue to be supported, inviting young people to participate in these programs. He stated, “If we consider our R&D studies, in terms of plant production, we are developing seeds. You must keep your genetic resources protected. Your studies that will ensure the highest level of efficiency regarding seeds must continue. We have a seed gene bank that is really shown as an example in the world regarding this matter. With this seed gene bank, we ensure the future of our country’s plant production. We keep the genetic richness of Anatolia, both in terms of plants and animals, in these banks.”

Emphasizing that they have developed efficient, high-quality, drought-resistant, cold-resistant, and disease-tolerant production materials in vegetables, fruits, and field crops, Yumaklı said that 40% of the certified seeds used in the country are still being developed in these centers.

Yumaklı continued his words by stating:

“In this context, many prototypes that have been commercialized, from packaging to spraying helicopters, from calf feeding robots to fertilizer scraping robots, have been developed in cooperation between our Ministry, universities, and the private sector. Of course, at the point we have come today, if we increased our plant production from 129 million tons at the end of 2022 to 137 million tons at the end of 2023, research and development studies have a very significant place. Another important issue is to increase our country’s competitiveness in the agricultural field. Therefore, you must be innovative, inclusive, and your activities must be sustainable. Therefore, we have prioritized digitization for our farmers to access some information or services. Even launching the ‘Farming in My Pocket’ application, which allows our farmers, our producers, to do a job that they have done in a week, even maybe more, in minutes, can be a starting point as a factor that facilitates your work and contributes to productivity.”

Yumaklı expressed that they closely monitor the applications of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector and stated, “I must admit, there is no clear result formed in our minds regarding this issue.”

Touching on the use of artificial intelligence-based software and applications in combating forest fires, Yumaklı stated that systems providing data to fire decision support systems, especially smart towers, helped them to fight forest fires more effectively. Yumaklı said, “We have close to 776 towers, 184 of which are smart towers. So, when they see any sign of fire or any fire, they quickly transmit this information to the decision support systems through these sensors. Thanks to this, the intervention time for fires in Turkey has decreased from 40 minutes to 11 minutes.”

Addressing the topics that will enter the field of artificial intelligence for the Ministry, Yumaklı stated:

“Agricultural production planning has been discussed for many years. Its legal infrastructure was completed in 2023, and we made revolutionary decisions. We, as a country, have decided that we will now plan our agricultural production. Therefore, I want to emphasize the agricultural production planning where artificial intelligence may find endless areas when it enters. When your resources are scarce, and when climate change and other factors come into play, you must ensure your food security, secure your supply. Especially where the human element falls short, but we need to make quick decisions, we will use artificial intelligence.”

Yumaklı expressed that there is a very young population in the country, stating, “The ultimate goal for all of these to reach my Ministry is for the second century of Turkey, the second century of our Republic, to be the ‘century of production and producers.'”

source: prepared by Melisa Beğiç

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