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Purdue University and Microsoft team up to calculate COVID-19 impact on agriculture

21 May 2020

New collaboration between Purdue University and Microsoft calculates agricultural product supply risk stemming from COVID-19 worker illnesses.

The Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, in collaboration with Microsoft, has created the Purdue Food and Agricultural Vulnerability Index online dashboard to quantify the potential risk to the supply of agricultural products as a result of COVID-19 farm and agricultural worker illnesses.

Vulnerability of the supply of an agricultural commodity to risks such as COVID-19 depends on the number of farmers and agricultural workers affected, location of affected workers, crops and animals that are grown in the most impacted regions, and the degree to which production is concentrated in a particular geographic region.

The Purdue Food and Agricultural Vulnerability Index online dashboard, built on top of Microsoft Azure and Power BI platforms, estimates the share of agricultural production at risk by combining data on the number of COVID cases in each US county with the county’s total population, US 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 pin point potential problem spots. This tool was designed to help us detect if and when a problem emerges,” said 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, said, “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 to use and allows the user 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.



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