Home Artificial Intelligence To maintain fish and shrimp healthy, farmers in Indonesia now have a copilot to assist

To maintain fish and shrimp healthy, farmers in Indonesia now have a copilot to assist

To maintain fish and shrimp healthy, farmers in Indonesia now have a copilot to assist

JATIMALANG VILLAGE, Indonesia – It’s just after sunrise and shrimp farmer Andriyono is perched on a skinny bamboo walkway over considered one of his 16 ponds on the southern coast of Central Java.

With a rope, he gently pulls a flat circular net out of the water, together with a dozen leaping shrimp. He’s checking for leftover feed. Satisfied there’s none, he lowers the web back into the dark water.

Feed residue can indicate poor appetite in shrimp, which might stem from anything from disease to not enough oxygen within the water or too high of a pH reading. The residue itself can also be bad for water quality, resulting in a vicious spiral. Left unchecked, it could end in sick or dead shrimp inside days.

Shrimp are sensitive creatures.

“If one shrimp gets a virus, the entire pond of shrimp will die,” said Elsa Vinietta, Head of Aquaculture Platform and AI for eFishery, an aquatech startup whose aim is to modernize aquaculture. Disease can spread when a bird drinks from one pond then one other or from simply flowing water from one infected pond to a different.

When a farm is well-managed though, that may boost shrimp survival rates from as little as 60 percent to as high as 90 percent, said Vinietta.

Shrimp farmer Andriyono surveys his pond with Elsa Vinietta, who works for aquatech start-up eFishery. Photo by Fauzy Chaniago for Microsoft.

Recently, Andriyono began using a generative AI assistant, called Mas Ahya, to assist keep his shrimp healthy. Mas is “Mr.” and Ahya is a mixture of (expert) and (cultivate). Accessed via a mobile app, Mas Ahya is a pilot project by eFishery to scale up access to aquaculture expertise using Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service.

Andriyono made a switch 10 years ago from growing rice to farming shrimp. He now makes five times what he used to.

Within the month of February alone, he asked Mas Ahya a wide selection of questions in Javanese – like, “What’s the standard of my pond water?” to “What’s the condition of the plankton?” to “What’s the market price of shrimp?”

“Since using Mas Ahya, I do know every second what the standard of the water is. I may estimate prices higher,” said Andriyono, 39. “Mas Ahya makes every thing quicker.”

Aquaculture boom

Half of the world’s seafood now comes from aquaculture, the aquatic comparable to agriculture. In 2020, of the 178 million tonnes (196 million tons) of seafood produced globally, 51 percent was caught in seas and lakes and 49 percent bred through aquaculture, in keeping with a report published in 2022 by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Indonesia is the third-largest aquaculture producer (seven percent of worldwide share), after China (35 percent) and India (eight percent). The Indonesian government has ambitious targets for expanding the sector further but as is the case elsewhere, environmental degradation is a serious concern, resulting in calls for more sustainable farming methods.

eFishery was founded in 2013 by Gibran Huzaifah, a former catfish farmer who had built his own Web of Things (IoT)-based automated feeder to beat a typical problem – the over and under feeding of fish. Overfeeding wastes money and under feeding ends in undersized fish.

Bandung-based eFishery’s mission is to modernize traditional fish and shrimp farming, raising yields to assist meet growing world demand for protein. It now serves 200,000 farmers and is valued at $1.4 billion USD, having secured funding from a number of the region’s biggest sovereign and enterprise capital funds.

eFishery offers financing for feed and infrastructure where farmers pay after harvest. It also collects data from its automated eFeeders and water quality monitoring system and presents them as charts on its eFarm mobile app. To interpret those charts though, many farmers depend on an eFishery aquaculture technician who visits as often as twice weekly to reply questions.

Last yr, eFishery began using Azure IoT to attach and communicate with its eFeeders and water quality monitors, gathering and analyzing data in real time.

It also developed Mas Ahya using Azure OpenAI Service as a generative AI tool for farmers to get this data – and insights – in addition to draw on eFishery’s proprietary expertise and best practices. Farmers can ask questions and get answers in plainspoken language and have this expertise of their hands anytime to maximise production.

Hands holding a smartphone
The Mas Ahya copilot on eFishery’s eFarm app helps farmers access expertise via chat. Photo by Fauzy Chaniago for Microsoft. 

Azure OpenAI Service’s local language capabilities – Mas Ahya is currently available in Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese and English – was a giant draw. “This can lower the barrier to entry even further for our farmers,” said Andri Yadi, eFishery’s VP of AIoT & Cultivation Intelligence.

“Anytime, anywhere”

Within the village of Paremono about an hour’s drive northwest of Yogyakarta, Ira Nasihatul Husna farms tilapia along with her husband. They’ve the one fish farm within the village and their 10 ponds are fringed by coconut trees and rice fields.

Tilapia is a white fish, popular since it’s not very bony. Ira and her husband Purwanto sell cleaned and gutted fish to local restaurants.

She used to scatter feed by hand thrice a day, an inexact endeavor. “In the event you feed an excessive amount of, it’s a waste,” she said. “Too little and the harvest size just isn’t maximal and also you get less money.”

The ponds draw water from a river and the large challenge is maintaining water quality. Within the rainy season, for instance, ammonia levels go up and Ira has so as to add a complement to bring it down.

Last yr, they installed an eFeeder and more recently a water quality monitor connected to the eFarm app. More precise feeding and more even spreading of the feed has shortened the time from fry to market size from 4 to three-and-a-half months. The automated feeding has also freed Ira as much as do other things like pick her child up from school.

Woman in a headscarf, holding a phone
Ira Nasihatul Husna, a tilapia farmer, uses a copilot on her cell phone to envision on feed schedules and water quality at her tilapia farm. Photo by Fauzy Chaniago for Microsoft.

In February, Ira began piloting Mas Ahya. She will now check on water quality and feeds and immediately get solutions if there’s an issue. She said it’s given her the power to “access information anytime, anywhere, outside of working hours.”

One recent query she had for Mas Ahya: How do you overcome fungus in tilapia? Answer: Add quicklime – or calcium oxide – to cut back acidity within the water. Mas Ahya included dosage instructions.

Ira said she would love to expand her farm, as local demand is greater than she will be able to fulfill.

As for Andriyono, the shrimp farmer, he and his team used to do 4 manual feedings a day. The eFeeder now scatters feed repeatedly throughout the day, from 6am to 6pm. The shrimp grow faster once they eat small amounts often.

Andriyono used to send water samples to the local lab and wait two days for the outcomes. Now, along with manually checking for excess feed with a net within the morning, he can ask Mas Ahya what the state of every pond is. 

Mas Ahya provides data from the water quality monitors – pH, oxygen, temperature and salinity levels – which allows the farmer to quickly reply to probably the most life-threatening parameters. It also integrates lab data – greater than 100 parameters including bacteria, plankton and ammonia levels – so farmers can get in-depth evaluation that may inform longer-term practices, in order that they are more sustainable. 

Hands holding a smartphone
Shrimp farmer Andriyono checks the Mas Ahya copilot on eFishery’s eFarm app for an evaluation of water in his ponds. Photo by Fauzy Chaniago for Microsoft.

Andriyono exports the largest shrimp and sells the remainder locally. Since he got the eFeeder, 40 percent of his shrimp now go for export, in comparison with 30 percent before. He thinks Mas Ahya might help improve his yield further.

“My plan is to export all because it is higher value,” he said.

Sustainability goals

A future goal for eFishery is to assist Indonesian fish and shrimp farmers adopt more sustainable practices and help them get certified locally and by global organizations corresponding to US-based Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Seafood Watch.

Mas Ahya may also play a task on this, providing information on why sustainability is significant and the way certification can open latest markets, said Vinietta. This includes mentioning shortcomings and giving detailed instructions on the very best infrastructure and practices, corresponding to treating wastewater from ponds before releasing it into the environment.

The team can also be taking a look at supporting image, video and other formats on Mas Ahya beyond easy text, possibly using Azure OpenAI Service GPT-4 Turbo with Vision, said Vinietta.

The deal with sustainability and technology is making aquaculture appealing to a brand new generation.

“Young people want to hitch the eFishery movement,” said Romi Witjaksono, the 24-year-old product manager for Mas Ahya. “It’s a pleasant meeting point where you mix IT with fish.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here