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Using Artificial Intelligence to transform agriculture in Africa

Fatoumata Thiam

Fatoumata Thiam (from Senegal) talks about her groundbreaking research that assesses energy efficiency in irrigation networks.

What is the focus of your PhD research? In 2018, I commenced my PhD studies through the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), registered at the University Gaston Berger in Senegal. My research focus is on the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as applied to agriculture and farming. I am assessing energy efficiency within irrigation networks and clean energy within solar-powered systems.

The aim is to develop an automated irrigation system that will compute the right amount of water for overall crop growth, ensuring that only the required amounts of water are supplied to the plants. The goal is to propose a solution that will optimize and automate the irrigation paradigm in the Niayes area in north-western Senegal.

Niayes has exceptionally favourable climate for farming and represents a natural base of agricultural production in Senegal. However, the region is experiencing increasing salt intrusion and destruction of the strip of Casuarina trees [that help prevent erosion], caused by speculation and irregular sale of land.

So far, I have been able to establish a mathematical model of reliability and accessibility based on energy efficiency. I also have an Internet of Things testbed and several projects are being built from it for novel publications, in the context of our research focus.

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