A University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researcher will use his expertise to help Indian citizens and farmers tackle the impacts of climate change.

Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Indian economy, but the sector is under threat with millions of farmers facing unprecedented drought conditions.

Associate Professor Ravinesh Deo, a leading scientist in artificial intelligence, will head to India next year to work with key scientists at the National Institute of Hydrology.

Associate Professor Deo was awarded an Australia–India Strategic Research Fund Early and Mid-Career Fellowship 2020, announced by the Australian Academy of Science on Friday (November 22).

He will head up a project looking at how the latest artificial intelligence technologies can be used to address drought and water resources management issues.

The study will adopt state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms, including satellite-based datasets and water demand datasets from India, to develop prediction models for several cities and regional locations.

“Currently, agriculture soaks up an estimated 90 per cent of India’s annual rainfall, which is not sustainable especially when most Indian farmers are dealing with high levels of drought and the country is in a water crisis,” Associate Professor Deo said.

“This project will investigate the ability to forecast optimal water usage and seasonal drought in India’s drought-prone regions.

“Our main objective is to develop AI models for future extreme climate events so the water and agriculture sectors can build greater resilience to withstand the impacts of climate change, rising population and social consequences.”

Associate Professor Deo, who has previously undertaken fellowship programs in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Japan and Panama, said he was looking forward to sharing his current work in resolving socio-economic and climate shift challenges using artificial intelligence tools.

He also hopes to gain critical insights into ongoing research on water resources modelling that will benefit both Australia and India, as well as build new research connections that may lead to future collaboration opportunities.

“Australia and India both have common interests and common challenges in water usage, farming and agriculture,” Associate Professor Deo said.

“Rising temperatures and drought is perhaps the greatest threat facing not only these two countries, but the entire world.

“It’s putting extreme pressure on water systems and will only continue to get worse unless we can develop effective solutions and intelligent strategies for flood and drought management, and devise measures for optimal water utilisation.”

Associate Professor Deo will collaborate with research leaders at the National Institute of Hydrology, including Dr Rajendra Pandey who is the Member-Secretary of the Indian National Committee on Climate Change and a leading hydrologist within the Indian Government’s Ministry of Water Resources.

He will also visit the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute, a pioneer Institute of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Anand Agricultural University to develop collaborations regarding AI applications in agriculture and water resources.


Media contact:
Griffith Thomas, Email: griffith.thomas@usq.edu.au, Phone: 07 3470 4027
Rhianwen Whitney, Email: rhianwen.whitney@usq.edu.au, Phone: 07 4631 2977