Optimizing costs with 5G in agriculture

Exclusive interview with Sun Baocheng, CEO of Huawei in Brazil.

Retrato do CEO da Huawei no Brasil Sun Baocheng.

Sun Baocheng,CEO of Huawei in Brazil

5G technology in agriculture shall be a pillar for higher yields and food safety, besides reducing costs and improving harvest quality.
Sun Baocheng is CEO of Huawei do Brasil and has a bachelor’s degree in optoelectronic technology at Jilin University (China). Huawei operates worldwide as one of the main suppliers of infrastructure and communication equipment. It has been operating in Brazil since 1999.

AgriBrasilis – What are Huawei’s plans for Latin America?
Sun Baocheng – During these more than two decades in Latin America, 25 years in Brazil, Huawei is focused not only on providing the best solutions and equipment to all local institutions, but also collaborating with the digital transformation in the continent. Now, with the arrival of the 5G era, we already tested the technology along with our carriers with great success, following the international as well as national regulations, so we are confident to remain as leaders in the Information Technology and Computing market.

AgriBrasilis – What are the benefits 5G technology can bring to agriculture? In which countries it is more developed? What can be expected?
Sun Baocheng – The combination of fast communications via broadband Internet and real time on demand data from Cloud will allow the workers to access, in one hour, information that, with old connectivity, used to take three days to be obtained. 5G technology will allow the farmer to use more than one monitoring equipment at the same time, which will give him fast, safe and reliable data. This is a huge differential on minimizing harvest threats, with the support of drones and Cloud data on detection of diseases, like plagues and weed inside the plantations. With that, the farmer can elaborate a much more precise plan of action and take assertive decisions regarding use of agriculture inputs and labor.
South Korea, China and the United States are leading the 5G technology development, but many countries have taken significant steps to make 5G available to their citizens. In Brazil some carriers are actually ready to provide the service, from now on we can expect the service to spread, with the infrastructure update to support the new technology.

Rover monitoring crop

AgriBrasilis – What is the market potential in Latin America?
Sun Baocheng – Latin America is a massive territory, with some of the most important countries in the world. Its diversity both in culture and in social matters, make it a more important territory for Huawei, as we have the mission to make broadband internet and its benefits accessible to all.
Commercially, it is also a key territory to Huawei goals. We have been very solid in Latin America, with equipment that is present in the lives of the locals. We have been leading 5G technology worldwide and we look forward to bringing this leadership to Latin America to keep working for the Continent digital transformation. Regarding agriculture production, the continent is one of the most important in the world, so 5G will bring more efficiency to this area, contributing not only for a more cost effective, but for a more sustainable production as well.
Considering internet connection in the farms is low, how to implement 5G technology?
Sun Baocheng – There is no magic here. We need to develop a better infrastructure in those regions with better range and a greater number of repeater stations, so the connection can be faster and more solid. But the impact of 5G for workers and for the general population and the countries’ economies are so big, the investment will be reverted in a short term.
With access, in one hour, information that used to take three days to be obtained will be available in one hour and programs with larger databases that demand a fast connectivity will be a reality for the farmer. It will be a massive differential, avoiding harvest threats at the core, as well as contributing to reduce costs, get more reliable and safer information, helping the property to achieve a greater productivity with sustainability and competitiviness.

AgriBrasilis – How much shall cost to farmers to implement 5G?
Sun Baocheng – Huawei is not an internet provider for customers directly, the company itself is a supplier of Information and Communication equipment for internet carriers. The costs will depend on each carrier that will provide the service for the customer.
We know there is a big investment considering the update and installation of more modern antenna infrastructures, but it is going to pay off if we consider the potentiality and efficiency returned.
We solidly believe and has proven that 5G technology will enhance all kinds of industry processes, with a more efficient use of technologies like Cloud and Artificial Intelligence. The use of 5G will help new applications with larger databases to work faster and data processing will bring efficiency to Agriculture Business. The site construction and implementation are not so simple. We believe that with 5G, new business models will be designed to leverage the connectivity for all industries including agribusiness. Huawei is engaged in that, working with agricultural technology ecosystem for better understanding of the agriculture map, costs and needs to support the carriers with new and targeted business models.

AgriBrasilis – How would Huawei cooperate with other agriculture technology companies and farmers?
Sun Baocheng – During December, 2020, Huawei and the Government of the State of Goias broke the proof of concept that 5G + Cloud + Artificial Intelligence are the three pillars for a sustainable and more efficient agriculture production. For this proof of concept version, we have used a 5G network built by Claro, which is a large internet carrier in Brazil.
In this experience in Rio Verde, Goiás, we worked with nice 5G applications to agribusiness, using connected drones and even rovers to monitor the crops with very good and reliable results. The conclusion of the test generated expectations as much as to reduce the use of herbicides and fungicides by 90%, fertilizers by 10%, water and seeds by 30%. All these mean more productivity, lower cost and surely, more protection to our environment.
Our contribution with other agriculture technology companies is similar to that case. Huawei believes on the empowerment of the network environment. In building a solid broadband that will take the technology to every Latin America resident, by working with the most internet carriers possible and making 5G technology more democratic.