Here's how telecommunications companies are helping farmers yield results
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South Africa is amongst the forerunners in the world, particularly in respect to agri-tech that utilises drones for crop mapping on farms… Despite this, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck says that the technology is not being embraced across the sector.
While there are very few case studies of success stories in South Africa – one of the world leaders in intelligent tools for agriculture is Cape Town-based, Aerobotics.
In the early years of the business, founders James Paterson and Benji Meltzer used drone technology and scanning equipment to monitor the Paterson family farm. Realising that their combined skills in aeronautics and machine learning could solve challenges in the agricultural sector, the two used artificial intelligence analysis software to process aerial imagery and equip farmers with actionable insights that would contribute to making the future of farming more fruitful.
Until about three or four years ago, you found that most of this technology being used across the African continent was being brought in from the United States and American countries were using Africa almost as a testbed for this technology.Arthur Goldstuck, Founder and Chief Executive Officer — World Wide Worx
Now we have a situation where the technology and the innovation is being built locally... So, it is being geared towards very specific needs of the environment in which they operate as opposed to being imported and overlaid over this environment.Arthur Goldstuck, Founder and Chief Executive Officer — World Wide Worx
Is tech ahead of the human ability to utilise it?
"There are now examples of start-ups that are gearing themselves towards the small farmer and it's very much a question of whether that farmer wants to be part of the solutions," says Goldstuck.
The reluctance of rural farmers to adopt agri-tech stems from poor connectivity within rural areas along with the obvious cost factor.
To address the issue, telecommunications giant, MTN introduced affordable connectivity solutions across more than 1000 rural sites in Africa that will enable livestock farmers to use smart collars to ensure that their wealth is safe and secure.
What rural farmers will soon realise is that the benefits of investing in smart farming outweigh the financial burden of having to pay security personnel to protect themselves against sophisticated livestock theft syndicates.
Vodacom subsidiary, Mezzanine's MyFarmWeb is also making a huge impact on the agriculture sector by using the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable farmers to capture agricultural data into a cloud-based web platform that then aggregates the data to help farmers make informed decisions in real-time.
If you look at those kinds of combinations and you realise that if mobile operators are playing in this space, it’s becoming almost a commoditised technology.Arthur Goldstuck, Founder and Chief Executive Officer — World Wide Worx
The Internet of Things does not just involve collecting information from sensors that are being planted but also aggregating that data in the cloud through cloud computing services. It then analyses the data in the cloud, feeds it back down to the farmer or to the farm operations to make decisions based on the data being collected from these sensors, explains Goldstuck.
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This article first appeared on 702 : Here's how telecommunications companies are helping farmers yield results
Source : https://cib.absa.africa/insights2021/