Purdue University is partnering with Microsoft to pinpoint vulnerabilities in the food supply chain due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organizations said Wednesday.
Together, Microsoft and Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics have created the Purdue Food and Agricultural Vulnerability Index, an online dashboard that quantifies the potential risk to the supply of agricultural products as a result of Covid-19 farm and agricultural worker illnesses. That risk depends on a variety of factors, according to Purdue researchers, including: the number of farmers and agricultural workers affected; the location of affected workers, crops, and animals that are grown in the most affected regions; and the degree to which production is concentrated in a particular geographic region.
Built on top of Microsoft Azure and Power BI platforms, the index estimates the share of agricultural production at risk by combining data on the number of Covid-19 cases in each U.S. county with the county’s total population, U.S. Department of Agriculture data on the number of farmers and hired farm workers in each county, and data on agricultural production of each county.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the past few weeks is how important it is to know where our food comes from and to be able to identify and pinpoint potential problem spots. This tool was designed to help us detect if and when a problem emerges,” according to Jayson L. Lusk, distinguished professor and department head of agricultural economics at Purdue and collaborator on the index.
Ranveer Chandra, chief scientist at Microsoft Azure Global and lead collaborator on the project, added that: “Digital tools can help alleviate some of stresses we are currently facing in the food sector. We are collaborating with Purdue University to interpret data from different sources, and from multiple points in the supply chain, to add more visibility and identify potential risks to our food system.”
The online dashboard is free and allows users to drill down by commodity and estimate the potential risk production and productivity losses due to Covid-19 farmer and farm worker illnesses at the state and county level.
For more information, go to https://purdue.ag/foodagvulnerabilityindex.
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