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NEC and Kagome to provide AI-enabled services that improve tomato yields

Tokyo, Japan, March 31, 2020 - NEC Corporation today announced the conclusion of a strategic partnership agreement with Kagome Co., Ltd. to launch agricultural management support services utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) for leading tomato processing companies.

The new service capitalizes on NEC’s AI-enabled agricultural ICT platform, CropScope, to visualize tomato growth and soil conditions based on sensor data and satellite images, and to provide farming management recommendation services. This AI expertise enables the service to provide information on the best timing and optimal amounts of irrigation and fertilizer for the cultivation of healthy crops. As a result, farms are able to achieve stable yields and lower cultivation costs, while practicing environmentally sustainable agriculture without depending exclusively on the technical skill of individual growers.

By using this service, leading tomato processing companies can obtain a comprehensive understanding of the most effective growing conditions for tomato production on their own farms, as well as their contract growers. Also, they can manage crop harvest orders across all fields in an optimal way based on objective data, which helps to reduce yield loss and improve productivity.

Tomato markets are expected to continue expanding in line with population and economic growth, particularly in emerging countries. However, it is necessary for sustainable tomato cultivation to overcome a variety of challenges, such as a decrease in growers and environmental issues.

NEC and Kagome began collaborating in the agricultural field in 2015, and by 2019 they had conducted demonstrations in a variety of regions, including Portugal, Australia and the United States. An AI farming experiment in Portugal in 2019 showed that the amount of fertilizer used for the trial was approximately 20% less than the average amount used in general, yielding 127 tons of tomatoes per hectare, which is approximately 1.3 times that of the average Portuguese grower, and almost the same as that of particularly skilled growers.

With the goal of commercializing this service, Kagome will establish a Smart Agri Division in April 2020, first targeting customers in Europe, then aiming to expand the business to worldwide markets. As a promising market of the future, trial services of tomato production in Japan are scheduled to take place in 2020.

"Kagome has been developing agricultural management support technologies using big data in collaboration with NEC since 2015, with the aim of realizing environmentally friendly and highly profitable agricultural management in the cultivation of tomatoes for processing on a global basis," said Kengo Nakata, General Manager, Smart Agri Division. "By combining Kagome’s farming know-how with NEC's AI technology, we will realize sustainable agriculture," he added.

"NEC is pleased to have signed a strategic partnership agreement with Kagome and to jointly launch an agricultural management support business utilizing AI for the processed tomato market," said Masamitsu Kitase, General Manager, Corporate Business Development Division. "By accelerating the digitization of agriculture, NEC aims to realize a sustainable agriculture that can respond flexibly to global social issues on climate change and food safety," he added.

Image 1: Smart devices enable large farms to grasp conditions, quickly detect irregularities and make agricultural decisions

Sharing daily information on irregularities with farming instructors and producers
Providing important information for farm decisions
(Soil Moisture Graph)
Satellite images can identify variations in growth and control fertilizer application

Image 2: Farm management and information-intensive portal for farmers

zoomLarger view
Sharing and consolidating the expertise of farming instructors for training future generations

1. Value Provided by the Service

  Visualization services Farming management recommendation services
(Tomato growers)
It is possible to quickly notice irregularities and to reduce the cultivation risk through visualizing the situation of a large field. AI which has acquired the know-how of skilled workers enables profitable farming. It also facilitates technology succession and helps to increase the number of new farmers.
Farming instructors Even if a field is large, it is possible to accurately identify the areas where irregularities are occurring and provide guidance based on accurate data. The use of formalized agricultural support know-how can reduce the time required to guide producers and train farming instructors.
Leading tomato processors Productivity can be improved through optimal total harvest adjustments based on objective data. Stable procurement and lower procurement costs can be achieved by reducing procurement risk and minimizing inputs.

2. Business Model

  • Kagome mainly provides "visualization services" and "farming management recommendation services" to tomato processing companies
  • Leading tomato processing companies use both services to support the farming of tomato producers
Farming instructor using a device to assist a farmer


About NEC Corporation
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