WASHINGTON—The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), along with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), announces the launch of a virtual reality training program for cotton farmers.
According to ICAC, "The program will allow farmers, cotton scientists, and researchers to visit a virtual cotton field and learn best practices of integrated pest management and sustainable cotton production strategies derived from all over the world."
GIZ will support ICAC in developing the VR training on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
According to ICAC, professional camera crews are shooting footage for the VR Cotton Training Program, which will consist of two modules. The modules will do two things—allow farmers anywhere in the world to get a grasp of the cotton ecosystem; and lead farmers through the development stages of the cotton crop, as well as sustainable best management practices.
"ICAC has positioned itself firmly at the forefront of the technology movement, developing innovative new solutions to problems that have challenged the industry for decades," says ICAC's executive director Kai Hughes. ‘With the support of BMZ and GIZ, we’ll be developing this exciting new innovation that—due to the enormous amount of knowledge that can be transferred in a very short period of time—will help transform the way farmers grow cotton, often in some of the least-developed places on earth. Of course, VR will never replace real field trips and travels—nor should it—but it does enable people to have experiences that would otherwise be impossible."
Through VR technology, smallholder farms, especially in the least developed countries in Africa, can "achieve greater yields and improve farm income while producing better quality cotton in a more sustainable way," according to ICAC.
"Better production practices will contribute to minimizing environmental damage, reducing pesticide use as well as greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity and improving water use efficiency," says Felix Ruhland, project manager at GIZ. "The project will build on analytical research on global trends in the sustainable use of water and agrochemical inputs."
On Oct. 7, attendees of the inaugural World Cotton Day in Geneva, Switzerland will have the chance to demo the technology.
For more information, visit https://icac.org.