By MefLyN Anwana
Better days are indeed here for farms in Akwa Ibom state, as a drone revolution births in the state, pioneered by JOSEG ROBOTICS, a technology start-up based in Akwa Ibom State. The tech start-up has successfully built aerial robotics (UAV or Drone) and AG sensor drones that can assess Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVA) which interprets farm data to decide which farm areas require attention. In a recent demonstration at the “OurFarms NG” field day, the indigenous tech start-up showed that farm inputs such as fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides could be applied with the aid of drones. And what’s better? The drones are locally fabricated and best adapted to indigenous weather conditions.
At the field day demonstration, I commended the local start-up for their innovation, noting that aerial robotics are indeed the future of agriculture. Drones, more formally known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) essentially are flying robots that can be remotely controlled or flown autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS. In the past, drones were mostly associated with the military, where they were used for anti-aircraft target practices, intelligence gathering and more controversially as weapons platforms. However, drones have recently been deployed to civilian and of course more productive uses, namely: search and rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, firefighting, photography, agriculture, amongst others.
With indigenous firms like JOSEG ROBOTICS venturing into the production and fabrication of these drones, (which will ensure local sourcing, availability and technical support services), Agropreneurs in AkwaIbom are set to explore new ways that will yield great returns in the overall.According to the food and agriculture organization of the united nations (FAO), the usefulness of drones in agriculture cannot be overemphasized. In an article by the business insider, quoted on the FAO website, the uses enumerated include mapping, crop-dusting, spraying amongst others.
Away from drones, the Our Farm.NG’s first field day, was a rare opportunity for field goers to see firsthand, the fields and different crops cultivated by Our Farm at Ikot Uso community, Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The field goers were taken through the fields of 4.3 hectares’ plantain farm intercropped wiith Egusi, corn and cassava. We were also shown a 3 hectares’ land, prepared for a fully functional integrated farm to be launched in the last quarter of the year.
Speaking at the field day, Idorenyin Essiet, the farm managershared the vision of “Our Farm.NG” and its Co-Founders (Uzoma Azumara and Emeka Anoliefo) which he said would leverage on the business of agriculture, to not only create wealth for its partners and investors, but to improve the quality of lives in the ruralcommunities by supporting them in 3 critical areas namely:Education, Health and Provision of basic social amenities.
Commendations were given to the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration for placing premium on food sufficiency & driving sustainable development through agriculture. In the words of Idorenyin Essiet, “the recent enumeration of Farmers in the State will go a long way in exploring aggregators with the availability of big Data”. Essiet also highlighted the need for cross sectoral collaboration by the Private sector to engage agric business in the state and encouraged youth involvement in the sector.
Clearly, the adoption of modern technologies in agriculture, such as the use of ag sensor drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to determine the NDVI (Normalised Difference vegetation index) of any farm can significantly enhance risk anddamage assessments and revolutionize the way Africa prepares for and responds to disasters that impacts Agric Business via precision farming. It is indeed heartwarming to see that AkwaIbom Entrepreneurs like JOSEC ROBOTICS and Ourfarm.NG are rising to the faith of their greatness, gearing up to engage a broad spectrum of engagements in the Agric Value Chain.
MefLyN AnwanA is the Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Entrepreneurial Development