How Smart Technologies Can Help Africa’s Smallholder Farmers

Smart Technologies
Smart Technologies
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In recent years, modern technologies, communications, cloud data, robotics, sensors, and automation systems have been actively introduced in agriculture, which has led to the ubiquity of precision and smart farming.

And as due to the global pandemic companies of all sizes in different industries are working remotely, even farmers monitor their seedlings from home, enjoying the benefits of smart farming technology.

In this piece, we will explain what smart tech means and how it can assist farmers, especially in the African region.


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Smart Farming Technologies

Modern smart farming technologies have the potential to help tackle poverty and hunger more effectively, especially in developing countries that significantly rely on agriculture. In particular, the use of smartphones by farmers to access real-time farm information could change the way they provide livelihoods and expand communities.

Innovations in smart farming help growers increase yields and earn higher incomes through smarter decisions when planning crop protection against diseases and pests, adapting to weather conditions, accessing financial services and selling products at the best price.

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More so, the use of robotic agricultural equipment in the fields, equipped with systems that perform mathematical calculations based on AI, can increase and improve yields, reduce costs and enhance the safety of agricultural activities.

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Smart farming implies the use of accurate and relevant data collected by different sensors (satellites, ground sensors, drones, IoT devices) and analyzed by digital AI- and ML- powered digital tools.

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The goal of smart farming is to ensure sustainability by offering reliable insights into all activities that occur on the farm remotely, saving time and money on farm management. Luckily, rapid technology development has made smart farming tech available and affordable to farmers worldwide, including in Africa.

Modern farming software offers invaluable data for farmers to decide on what fertilizers to use and where, plan irrigation, track plant development stages, plan crop rotation, and do much more, touching upon every aspect of farm monitoring and management.

Farming in Africa

Due to the geographical position of Africa in the subtropical and equatorial-tropical zones, tropical and subtropical agriculture has developed here. The crops grown can be divided into two groups: for local consumption and for export.

The first group includes millet, sorghum, yams, cassava, wheat, barley, corn, rice, and peanuts. The second group covers cocoa, coffee, tea, cotton, citrus fruits, and sugar cane, with coffee and tea being the most exported agricultural products in East Africa.

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of most African countries. It employs a huge share of the economically active population of the mainland. Africa is a global supplier of many types of tropical agricultural products: cocoa beans, coconut kernels, coffee, palm oil, tea, and a significant amount of peanuts and peanut butter.

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As for the crops grown for local consumption, they are mostly wheat, corn, barley, and rice. The crops are grown in different African regions, depending on the farming systems developed there to match the growing conditions of these crops. But do farmers in Africa use smart technologies to be sustainable and boost productivity? And if not, why should they? 

Adoption of Smart Farming Tech in Africa: Webinar by EOSDA and Agroxchange Technology

Agroxchange Technology and EOS Data Analytics have hosted a free webinar dedicated to fostering agritech adoption in Africa. EOSDA is a global provider of AI-powered solutions that leverage satellite data, and Agroxchange Technology is an online platform for Nigerian farmers. 

As smallholder farming is currently experiencing its prime in African countries, it is alarming that only few farmers show desire to integrate modern smart agriculture technologies into their farm activities. The webinar focused on the benefits AI and ML can offer to smallholding farmers and how useful it can be not just for growers but also those committed to science, agritech, and environment preservation.

Who was Presenting:

  • Argoxchange Technology CEO and GIS expert
  • EOSDA Director of Strategic Partnerships
  • Amazon Web Services Head of Solution Architecture
  • Department of Agriculture Technology, University Putra Malaysia (UPM) PhD-Associate Professor
  • Precision Agriculture for Development Country Launch Manager

What was Discussed:

  • The current state of Agriculture in African countries
  • Challenges farmers in West Africa face, and solutions to them
  • How agritech can enhance the livelihood and productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa
  • How precision agriculture changes modern farming 
  • How smallholder farmers can get invaluable insight con their farm from satellite data
  • EOSAgriSat – the first satellite constellation focused on agriculture
  • Getting results via the adoption of digital agriculture
  • Earth Observation on AWS: how cloud computing creates value from satellite data
  • The future of the African agriculture industry

(VIDEO) Webinar: Smart Farming in Africa by EOSDA and AgroXchange

 

Video credit: EOS Data Analytics and Agroxchange Technology

Future of Smart Farming Market

According to the Smart Agriculture Market report, the smart agriculture market is expected to grow by almost 10% from 2020 to 2025. And that is despite a marginal dip in 2020 due to the global pandemic, which has resulted in disruptions in the supply chain.

Luckily, the use of remote monitoring technology and farm management software may be the way out during the post quarantine period.

Modern smart farming tech is already making agribusiness more profitable than ever due to the growing number of farmers that are starting to adopt precision farming tools.

In numbers, precision farming accounted for almost half of the smart agriculture market in 2019, owing to the increased focus on farm efficiency and productivity. That is why the integration of precision farming tools is predicted to change the concept of agriculture for good, making it more efficient and sustainable.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article How Smart Technologies Can Help Africa’s Smallholder Farmers was written by Abu Obaida. The article was last modified: July 31st, 2021

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