Drone Technology to help in Agricultural Food Production

…As Women Farmers Advancement Network train Women on the use of Drone and other Technology

Climate change has become a major concern for food security around the world and specifically in Nigeria. In 2020, farmers experienced major losses due to the unpredictability of the weather, including flooding and droughts. In September 2020, it is reported that farmers in Kebbi State lost produce worth about N5 Billion, with more than 450,000 hectares of rice plantation submerged in the lowlands, and over 50,000 hectares of millet, sorghum, maize and sugarcane also destroyed in the highlands.

Referencing the changing climate, it was revealed that many of the farmers had decided against planting maize in 2020 due to unpredictable rainfall patterns. They however changed their minds when the state government started a flood forecast campaign. In response to this announcement, members of the association went to access loans when heavy rains were forecast for October and November, which they believed would assist in late maize planting.

As a result, farming communities and others involved in agriculture need to adapt agriculture to climate change. Technology has become a crucial part of enhancing decision making through accurate, reliable, and timely information in agriculture. One of the growing developments in this regard is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones as they are commonly referred to. The use of drones can provide valuable data that can be used to influence policies and decision in the sector.

Drones can be used in crop production, warning systems, disaster risk reduction, forestry, fisheries, and wildfire conservation.

In crop production, drones can be used to conduct soil health scans, monitor crop health, assists in planning irrigation schedules, estimates yield data, and provides valuable data for weather analysis.

Losses are inevitable in agriculture however drones are used increasingly for agricultural insurance and assessment sector. It can also be useful in giving an accurate estimate of losses.

In light of this, the Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) has embarked on a training exercise for women on the use of drones and other modern technology. However, drone technology should not be used in isolation, director of WOFAN, Hajiya Salamatu Garba, added that plans are being made to also use what is called RiceAdvice. It is an application that advices farmers efficiently, giving them adequate information. Farmers will also be trained on investment, insurance, and how to secure real-time information on climate change and weather forecast. This would aid farmers in decision making in real time rather than just general knowledge.

As technology has become an essential part of our  life, it is important that drones and other forms are used in agriculture and agribusiness. However, not all farmers may be able to afford it. It therefore imperative that the government and private sector work together to aid small-scale farmers and farmers in rural areas secure the technology and the training required to do so.

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