World Café Showcases ICAC’s Innovative Technologies for the Cotton Supply Chain

For Immediate Release 
Date Posted: 5 December
Executive Summary
Highlights from the World Café at the 78th Plenary Meeting:
  • The ICAC is developing two innovative technology projects, one targeted at production in less-developed countries and another that has potential from farm to retailer
  • The Virtual Reality (VR) Cotton Training Programme can be a powerful tool to help improve yields, but also has applications throughout the entire cotton supply chain, including brands and retailers
  • The voice-based Soil and Plant Health app is specifically designed to help smallholder farmers improve the health of their soil and cotton crop in less-developed countries
World Café Showcases ICAC’s Innovative Technologies for the Cotton Supply Chain
As the old adage goes, ‘seeing is believing’ — but so is hearing, according to three speakers who demonstrated cutting-edge technologies currently under development at The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).

During the World Café — the Sixth Open Session of the 78th Plenary Meeting in Brisbane, Australia — presenters discussed two cutting-edge initiatives designed to transform cotton production globally, especially for smallholder farmers in less-developed countries.

Mike McCue, ICAC Director of Communications, addressed the audience first, highlighting the organisation’s VR Cotton Training Programme.

Displaying footage from the organisation’s on-site filming in India earlier this year, Mr McCue emphasised the positive impact that the technology could have on cotton yields in many less-developed countries — but added that it also holds great potential for the entire supply chain.

‘Our intention is to bring yields in West Africa from the current 452 kg per hectare (ha) to the global average of 786 kg/ha, and to double East and South Africa’s current yields of 252 kg/ha’, he said. ‘But this technology also can be used throughout the chain, from entrepreneurs interested in opening small-scale textile units in Africa, all the way to executives from global brands, who can use VR to “walk” through the cotton supply chain and get a better understanding of how the products on their shelves got there’.

Dr Keshav Kranthi, ICAC Head of Technical Services, and Dr Kater D Hake, Vice President of Agricultural and Environmental Research for Cotton Incorporated, then took the stage to discuss the ICAC Soil and Plant Health app.

The software was specifically designed to help farmers improve soil and plant health in less-developed countries, including Africa. ‘The most important aspect of this voice-based technology is that it was created to help farmers — even if they’re illiterate’, Dr Kranthi said.

He pointed out that the app also gathers a large amount of critical data that is very specific to the individual user, including the pests and diseases prevalent in that region. ‘The app features built-in GPS technology that automatically detects its location when it is launched for the first time, and it greets farmers in whatever their local language is’, he said.
That same geolocation technology also downloads the prior 60 days of weather data, so the app knows how much rain and how many heat units the crop has gotten in the prior two months. With that knowledge, the app can show a farmer exactly how his plant should look on a given day and how to resolve problems with the crop, according to Dr Hake.

‘The ability to be able to provide highly customised information and diagnostic support to a cotton grower with little or no literacy skills is a ground-breaking development’, Dr Hake said. ‘Given the enormous volume of detailed audio and visual information we can provide to a grower standing in the middle of his cotton field, anywhere in the world, we’re actually extending the concept of ‘seeing is believing’ to ‘seeing is understanding’.

The World Cafe concluded this morning with a 60-minute question-and-answer session. The ICAC’s 78th Plenary Meeting is being held 2-5 December in Brisbane, Australia, with the theme, ‘Global Leadership: Pushing Cotton’s Boundaries’.
From left to right, below: Mike McCue, Dr Kater Hake, Dr Keshav Kranthi


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