July 8, 2021

Precision agriculture, providing solutions to smallholding farmers

Akin Fadeyi Foundation kicks off ‘What Women Can Do’ competition

By Jimoh Babatunde

Agriculture is being taken away from the realm of cutlass and hoe as many are gradually embracing the power of precision farming technology to drive the socio-economic growth of small-scale farmers in the continent.

Precision agriculture is an approach to farm management that uses information technology to ensure that crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity.

It is also known as satellite agriculture, as-needed farming and site-specific crop management.

Precision farming technologies allow farmers to make data-driven decisions while implementing sustainable practices that can preserve natural resources for future generations. Agricultural development driven by satellite crop monitoring solutions ensures dynamic economic growth and strengthens food chain risk mitigation.

So Earth Observing System Data Analytics, EOSDA, a global provider of AI-powered satellite imagery analytics, in collaboration with Agroxchange Technology, a digital platform for farmers in Nigeria, brought together experts in Precision Agriculture for Development to discuss various benefits of AI & machine learning application in smallholding farming.

EOS Data Analytics founder Max Polyakov said “This cooperation between EOS Data Analytics and AgroXchange will foster the integration of space technologies into the Nigerian agricultural sector. With the implementation of satellite crop monitoring within precision agriculture tech, farm productivity is expected to improve by 30%.

“For smaller Nigerian farms, the adoption of space monitoring represents a cost-effective solution for field cultivation. Visualized satellite data enables farmers to model the development of crops, track surface moisture, assess vegetation health, and manage the condition of fields from the comfort of their office.

“Agriculture in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, has vast economic potential. In this way, the implementation of satellite technologies will just hasten the pace of the country’s solid development. With investments in crop monitoring, small Nigerian farms gain support for business growth based on the principles of sustainable farming. Therefore, accessibility and affordability of satellite technologies are key to ensuring food security for the African region,”

Speaking during the first-ever joint webinar recently, Adewale Adegoke, Agroxchange Technology CEO and GIS expert, said “Over time, food security has become a trending topic due to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore essential to adopt the application of satellite data and remote sensing technologies to achieve climate-resilient agriculture and relevant SDGs that will aid improvements to smallholder farmer livelihood and improve food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

While defining the key agricultural challenges for small-scale farmers across Nigeria and other Western African countries, he listed low compliance with Good Agronomic Practices; low uptake of precision ag tech; low capacity to interpret data; high cost of agritech and integration of technology with extension services as main problems facing agriculture.

Adegoke said “EOSDA and Agroxchange Technology have come up with a tailored approach of how to effectively deliver multiple digital solutions to smallholding farmers in Africa, improving their daily life quality and boosting the agro sector overall.

Adewale Adegoke said applying smart farming technologies in smallholder farming requires a fit-for-purpose strategy that is systematic, to generate tangible and measurable outcomes that include food security and job creation.

“In the context of precision agriculture, insight is critical to achieving high yield and improvements to farmer livelihood. Satellite technology is pivotal to ensuring this.”

On her part, Uzoamaka Ugochuchkwu, Country Launch Manager at Precision Agriculture for Development, stressed the positive role of collaboration for the successful integration of digital agriculture in Nigeria:

“As I said in my contribution to the event, we hope that this collaboration will be the first to expand the use of digital agricultural advisory services throughout Nigeria, to more fully integrate those services into governments’ existing agricultural extension systems, and to absorb these services into Nigeria’ long-term budgets.”

For Siva Balasundram, an Associate Professor at the Department of Agriculture Technology, University Putra Malaysia, precision agriculture is a key enabler for positive digital disruption in agriculture. He emphasized the importance, inevitability, and potential benefits of transitioning into Digital Agriculture by adopting the cutting-edge computing technology of today.

“Smart farming is an important conversation the agriculture community should have. I am glad the agriculture stakeholders of Africa, particularly smallholder farmers, have responded to this call.”