Salah Sukkarieh: The Digital Farmhand

The Digital Farmhand

A low cost digital system including a mobile platform which provides crop intelligence, connects small-scale farmers to a global growing community, and increases farmers’ capacity to produce nutritious foods through data analytics and robotics.


Developing regions are faced with the burden of malnutrition and food insecurity, and will need to find ways to increase food production or face significant problems within the next generation. Some developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, for example, will need to increase food production by up to 77 percent to feed their communities by 2050, according to the FAO. A high rate of micronutrient deficiency resulting from insufficient vitamins and minerals in local diets is additionally creating poor health outcomes in rural and disadvantaged communities.

Small scale and family farms are the most dominant type of farming organization throughout the developing world, in particular also in Asia and the Pacific.  The commercially available farming equipment required to increase productivity on such farms is neither suitable for small scale farming nor affordable for low income farmers.


This innovation focuses on the development and demonstration of low cost, open source, digital solutions for agriculture to address challenges in nutrition security, particularly in horticulture, for developing countries. Providing small scale farmers with digital systems comprising smartphone technology, data analytics, and robotics that are linked to a global growing community will increase a grower’s capacity to provide secure nutritious food whilst dealing with the challenges of climate change, water scarcity and pests.



Our goal is to increase the production of horticultural crops in communities with inadequate access to good nutrition. The proposed low cost digital system aims to protect and strengthen the livelihoods of food insecure households. Suitable agricultural technologies allow impoverished communities to improve the supply and the diversity of foods needed for an active and healthy life. Increased productivity on a farm also makes the supply of healthy foods more resilient to increasing food prices and unfavourable growing conditions. This results in communities having a more sustainable year-round supply of nutritious foods such as fruit and vegetables.