Enhancing agribusiness in Brazil through smarter connectivity

Enhancing agribusiness in Brazil through smarter connectivity

At Mobile World Congress 2024, Developing Telecoms spoke to Atilio Rulli, VP of Public Relations at Huawei Latin America & Caribbean, to discuss how Huawei’s solutions are enabling smarter connected farming in Brazil, a market where agribusiness is an enormous contributor to GDP.

Huawei has been working in the agriculture business in a B2B capacity in Brazil for around four to five years. Since its first 5G pilot case in Brazil, Huawei has worked with many carriers in Brazil – both larger national carriers and regional ISPs, of which there are over 10,000 in the market. Huawei works with this ecosystem to connect carriers and integrators to enable more connected farming.

However, this doesn’t just encompass machinery such as drones and tractors, but also solutions, systems, and data analysis. A strong network of integrator partners is essential for implementing this. Connectivity is the essential part, and Huawei provides solutions to help farmers manage their connected business through their mobiles or desktops. The vendor also works with academies and universities as well as smaller developers or startups to develop solutions.

In Brazil, agribusiness is more than 27% of the country’s GDP – if connectivity can be enhanced through usage of technologies such as AI, cloud, and IoT, this could be increased by 2-3%, which in turn would have a major impact on future profitability. Connecting rural areas isn’t just about enhancing business – it creates huge social inclusion, as it delivers internet access to farmers and rural users who have not previously been connected.

It's not enough to deliver the access – people in rural areas need devices, and also training and support on how to use the smart solutions. In terms of geography, only 15% of Brazil is covered by connectivity, but in terms of population 95% are connected. These kinds of projects could push this figure more towards 100%, which is crucial for enabling not just the digital society but the digital economy.

Regarding the environment, there have been many gains – a major one being water usage. Connectivity enables the robotization of water usage, enabling farmers to use what is required without excess. A similar logic is applied to fertilisers, pesticides and other chemical products – they can be administered more accurately, and only where and when required.  This has reduced the usage of chemical products by around 95%, which has a major impact on the environment.

Once areas have received connectivity, they also need equipment – and given the scale of agriculture in Brazil, energy is also required to power this. In most deployments, photovoltaic energy – i.e. solar power – is used to power infrastructure, which is beneficial to the environment, reducing carbon consumption. Iolic and wind energy are also used, but Brazil is well suited to solar power.

The use of greener energy solutions also helps to reduce costs significantly. Energy production in Brazil is increasing year over year; the country has a good green energy matrix given that most of its energy producers – electric or otherwise – tend not to use oil and other environmentally aggressive techniques, and green power continues to grow, with photovoltaic energy accounting for around 7% of consumer use in Brazil. The country has one of the biggest photovoltaic farms in the Latin America region, and Rulli expects this to grow both for larger energy producers and for domestic use.

Rulli notes that in 2023, Claro, its subsidiary Embratel, integrator Sol and Huawei jointly won an Innovation Award from Brazil’s regulator Anatel for their Agro IoT Smart Farming project.

“We’ve shared one case with Claro, one of the biggest operators in Brazil, and the integrator was Sol. They covered a huge number of hectares in Brazil; this is part of a B2B strategy - not only for agriculture, we have B2B for logistics - but for each vertical you need specialist areas in this field”, explains Rulli.

Embratel is an internal unit set up by Claro to focus on the agriculture sector, with Huawei as a major technology partner. Sol meanwhile is an integrator that is closely familiar with  the business. Together the companies prepared an ecosystem in parallel with Anatel that regulates the usage of frequencies, with the regulator providing recommendations. Brazil has offered incentives on such projects since 2020, supporting the use of private networks to develop this ecosystem. Anatel also worked in parallel with ABDI, Brazil’s agency focused on industry development, to enhance the connectivity of these B2B projects.

As part of these projects, Huawei’s solutions help delivery coverage to customers, but in this specific area the vendor developed tailor-made solutions for rural areas that consume less power per square kilometre of coverage. These are not the same products used for urban coverage – profitability is crucial for low density areas and so solutions must provide optimal cost effectiveness to achieve this. Huawei develops solutions based on the target vertical, whether agriculture, ports, airports etc to ensure that the connectivity matches the need.

This dedicated focus ensures that the agribusiness sector is supported effectively, with smarter energy efficiency, the social benefits of improved rural connectivity, and partnerships to ensure better logistics. This approach is on track to boost the profitability of agribusiness in Brazil.


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