With the global population projected to reach 8.1 billion in 2025 (most growth occurring in developing countries and more than half in Africa), there is a bigger demand for food resources. According to a Harvard Business Review report in 2016, this demand for food is expected to increase anywhere from 59% to 98% by 2050.
In order to meet the food needs of the world’s increasing population, farmers across the world must find ways to improve current farming practices and processes so they can produce more food, increase productivity and make sustainability a priority.
Whilst other regions are already observing a strong trend towards rapidly evolving technologies like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles-UAVs (popularly known as drones) to achieve this high productivity and sustainability goal, Africa has largely been left behind.
But Farmerline, a Ghanaian ICT for agriculture enterprise, is on the brink of changing this trend.
Starting in April 2017, Farmerline will begin to experiment with drone technology to support a wide range of studies like crop monitoring, disease prevention and disaster mitigation.
With technical and financial support from the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU (CTA), and Airinov, a France-based company regarded as a industry frontrunner in the drone for Agriculture (droneAg) sector, Farmerline will go through rigorous UAV governance and related analytical systems training in order to fully deploy the drone technology to benefit Ghana’s agricultural value chain activities.
For Pascal Adomako, a Software Developer Associate at Farmerline, drone usage in agriculture is an innovation that offers the potential to address several of sector’s challenges. “Drone usage will help to improve the management of crops, livestock, fisheries, forests and other natural resources by introducing smallholder farmers to tools to achieve precision farming,” he said. “These tools will provide state-of-the-art-technology to monitor and analyse data and interpret findings to boost crop yield and improve sustainability along the value chain.”
Oscar Owusu-Ansah, also a Software Developer Associate at Farmerline, makes the case that drones have proven useful to agricultural farmers and major stakeholders, especially plant health and soil analysis. “Planting, irrigation and recognition of pest and fungal infestation are some of the critical activities drone technology has revolutionised. In the field of irrigation and chemical spraying where near perfect quantities are required, drones provide effortless solutions.”
Though drones are currently expensive, with new developments and further innovation, their use will improve yield and increase incomes of farmers.
Benefits of Drones in Farming
Potential to increase yields
Efficient water use
Reduce excess use of fertiliser
Ease of use
Integrated GIS Mapping
Crop Health Assessment
About Farmerline Ltd: Farmerline is a Ghanaian social business working to transform the lives of millions of farmers. The company deploys mobile and web technologies that bring farming advice, weather forecasts, market information and financial tips to farmers who are traditionally out-of-reach due to barriers in connectivity, illiteracy, and language. Farmerline thus aim to bridge the information gap by providing a seasonal subscription service that offers smallholder farmers access via their mobile phones to critical agricultural information, all in their local language (and by voice for those customers that have low-literacy) for easy understanding