ICAC Announces Launch of Virtual Reality Training Programme

For Immediate Release 

Date Posted: 29 August 2019

Executive Summary

Highlights from the ICAC announcement:

  • The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and ICAC will collaborate on a Virtual Reality Cotton Training Programme
  • The programme 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
  • Attendees at the launch of World Cotton Day on 7 October in Geneva will have the opportunity to demo the technology on-site
  • The first videos are already being filmed in cotton fields

ICAC Announces Launch of Virtual Reality Training Programme

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have announced a formal agreement to collaborate on a Virtual Reality (VR) Cotton Training Programme. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ will support ICAC in developing the VR training.

The ICAC is already in the field with a professional camera crew, shooting the initial footage. When fully developed, the VR Cotton Training Program will consist of two modules that will:

  • Allow farmers anywhere in the world — whether in a classroom or in the field — to understand the cotton ecosystem comprising a variety of insect pests, diseases and beneficial insects, as well incorporate the very latest integrated pest management practices.
  • Lead farmers and researchers through all the development stages of the cotton crop and highlight globally acknowledged sustainable best management practices to optimise natural resources and inputs to obtain high yields and increased profits, especially on smallholder farms.

‘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’, said ICAC 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’.

Providing information on best farm management practices through VR technology helps smallholder farms, especially in least developed countries in Africa, to achieve greater yields and improve farm income while producing better quality cotton in a more sustainable way.

‘Better production practices will contribute to minimising environmental damage, reducing pesticide use as well as greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity and improving water use efficiency’, said 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.

VR Demo to Debut at World Cotton Day on 7 October 2019

Cotton professionals who attend World Cotton Day in Geneva at World Trade Organisation headquarters on 7 October will be the first to get a sneak peek at the technology. ICAC, one of the founding organisations of the launch of World Cotton Day, will be offering 5-minute demonstrations of the VR Training Programme at its booth on the show floor. For more information and to register for World Cotton Day, please click here.

The VR Training Programme is one of two major technology initiatives being developed by the ICAC, with the other being an interactive, voice-based Soil and Plant Health app that will enable cotton farmers to diagnose and treat pests and diseases, right in their fields — even if they’re illiterate.

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 About the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)

Formed in 1939, the ICAC is an association of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries. It acts as a catalyst for change by helping member countries maintain a healthy world cotton economy; provides transparency to the world cotton market by serving as a clearinghouse for technical information on cotton production; and serves as a forum for discussing cotton issues of international significance. The ICAC does not have a role in setting market prices or in intervening in market mechanisms. For more information, please visit www.icac.org.

About GIZ

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a global service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work. GIZ has more than 50 years of experience in a wide variety of areas, including economic development and employment promotion, energy and the environment, and peace and security. As a public-benefit federal enterprise, GIZ supports the German Government – in particular the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) – and many public and private sector clients in around 120 countries in achieving their objectives in international cooperation. With this aim, GIZ works together with its partners to develop effective solutions that offer people better prospects and sustainably improve their living conditions. For more information, please visit www.giz.de/en/html/index.html