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Telus Agriculture looks to bring cutting edge tech to the food supply chain

Company plans to use communications, data collection and AI to bring more efficiency to food industry.


November 19, 2020
By The Canadian Press

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Telus Corp. launched a new agriculture division Thursday, saying it wants to use communications, data collection and artificial intelligence to bring more efficiency to the world’s food industry.

Chief executive Darren Entwistle said the new entity, called Telus Agriculture, can help improve decision making along the food chain from producers through to consumers.

“”Indeed, consumers are increasingly concerned about food origin, food safety and quality – and the global health emergency has amplified this attention on the stability of our food supply,“ Entwistle said in a Thursday webcast.

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The closure of processing plants and restrictions on domestic and foreign farm workers exposed the vulnerabilities of the food supply chain, he said.

Entwistle, who has headed Telus for 20 years, said it has been methodically moving on several fronts to use technology to make better use of information.

It’s important to make the food supply chain more efficient because demand is expected to grow by 70 per cent by 2050, he said.

“Telus Agriculture will promote a better yield of food supply, that is sustainable and more environmentally friendly,” Entwistle said.

One example he provided was tracking the temperature of foods as they go through the supply chain system in order to reduce perishable food waste and reduce the spread of food-borne illnesses.

Telus, which identified agtech as a growth opportunity about two years ago, said Telus Agriculture already has customers in more than 50 countries.

It also works with more than 1,200 experts in Canada, the United States, Mexico and other countries.

Telus Agriculture will also add Florida-based AFS Technologies and California-based Agrian to its holdings.

They are the latest in a series of acquisitions made by Telus over the past year, mostly in the United States and Canada.

Francois Gratton, an executive vice-president of Telus and chair of Telus Agriculture, said they think their collection of assets is “unmatched.”

“In addition to the agtech assets we hold, we also have extensive network infrastructure and global internet-of-things (IoT) capabilities that will help improve connectivity in remote and rural regions … far from urban centres,” Gratton said.

“Thanks to global IoT capabilities, producers and ranchers can use robots, drones and remote sensors, combined with machine-learning capabilities, to monitor crops, survey and map fields for better farm management.”