KUALA LUMPUR — July 23, 2019: Smallholders in Felcra’s plantations are poised to have their livelihood uplifted as the government inks a deal that will essentially modernise estate farming with the use of robotics technology.
The partnership between Felcra Berhad and robotics firm Mata Aerortech Sdn. Bhd. entails the use of drones and artificial intelligence in assessing crop health, managing natural resources and the application of pesticides and fertilisers.
Felcra was initially a statutory body known as Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority. Its aim was to develop rural areas and improve the livelihood of rural communities. It became a government-linked company in 1997.
In a statement, Mata Aerotech stated that a method known as precision farming can significantly improve yield and reduce costs due to reduced waste and leakages.
“Drone and unmanned aerial system (UAS) technology will enable more efficient and precise agriculture practices in terms of crop health analysis, surveillance, fertilisation, and superior security,” said the statement.
The company also stated that it will train UAS pilots and technicians from Felcra’s talent pool.
Taiwan had also opted a similar farming approach in its paddy industry and has experienced substantial reductions of pesticides purchase and labour costs. The same result was recorded in the country’s tea plantations.
The signing of the Felcra-Mata Aerotech memorandum of understanding was witnessed by Minister of Economic Affairs Datuk Seri Azmin Ali at Felcra’s paddy seed center in Seberang, Perak.
Mata Aerotech is a joint venture company between local IT firm Nexus Union Sdn. Bhd. and Taiwan’s Geosat Aerospace and Technology Inc.
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the agriculture sector contributed 8.2 per cent or RM96.0 billion to the country’s gross domestic product in 2017.