The future of Zimbabwe's Agricultural Industry powered by Internet of Things

The Internet of Things combined with big data, provides farmers with a wealth of information that they can use to maximise productivity and maintain the quality of food in the supply chain. We are now leaving in the most scary times where everything is completely going digital. 

By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi 

So what is the the future of Agriculture in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world in these dynamic times?? We have already witnessed one of our local young technopreneurs, Clive Nyapokoto from the Harare Institute of Technology developing the Vermi Acquaponics smart agricultural system which has a already won an Energy Global in South Africa. His system continues to cause waves across the country with its superior solutions outplaying the traditional agricultural methods which are struggling to produce bumber harvest in these modern erratic weather conditions.  

Internet of Things (IoT) is already a mainstream phenomenon, being driven by the promise of revenue growth across multiple sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, resource extraction, agriculture, and the military. The agriculture industry, in particular, primarily depends on engineering, technology as well as the biological and physical sciences. In this digital era, the agriculture industry has been an enthusiastic adopter of IoT and the applications of IoT in this sector is proliferating at a lightning speed with big farmhouses having to rethink their methods to find the efficiencies and cost savings necessary to compete.

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Some of the farm produce from technological powered farms in Kenya

With the real-time data provided, it can be possible for farmers to work in the acres of land and still watch their assets across entities such as their field, machinery and finance, monitored without being physically present. IoT, combined with big data, further provides farmers with a wealth of information that they can use to optimise efficiency, maximise productivity, and maintain the quality of food in the supply chain – from field to fork.

Initiatives to modernise agriculture have already been undertaken by developing IoT systems that enhance livestock welfare, these systems use data collected from a variety of sensors to ensure all operations are being executed within a set parameter and alerting farmers of any issues. For instance, when using IoT to monitor the health of livestock remotely, the farmers can track the animals’ movement to establish grazing patterns and help increase yield.

The IoT solutions also address two crucial issues prevalent which is irrigation and productivity in the agriculture space. Every year we read stories from across the globe on various countries facing drought and discussions on how this can be tackled. With the advent of technology in agriculture, this problem can now be resolved with assets such as irrigation systems or farming vehicles. These vehicles and systems provide data gathered by IoT sensors giving the farmers a holistic view of performance and helps schedule servicing and prevent yield-sapping breakdowns.

In certain areas such as precision agriculture, real-time data about soil, weather, air quality and hydration levels can help farmers make better informed decisions about the planting and harvesting of crops thus increasing the overall yield of crops as well. The IoT solutions and sensors will aid in increasing crop productivity by way of managing and controlling the activities such as crop water management and observation service (SOS).

Robert Le Busque, MD (sales operations and strategy) for APAC, EMEA and LATAM at Verizon Robert Le Busque, MD (sales operations and strategy) for APAC, EMEA and LATAM at Verizon The advancement in the technology ensures that the sensors are getting smaller, sophisticated and more economic. Networks are emerging to become intelligent and secure, protecting your data and ensuring that essential information gets through. Although awareness about these connected devices has only been created recently, there are progressive signs of this application already being taken seriously. Focusing on encouraging innovation in agriculture, smart farming is the answer to the problems that the industry is currently facing. ‘Connected farm’ is the future of farming; companies need to be committed to helping develop IoT across all sectors, including agriculture.

The concept is quickly catching on and is disrupting the agriculture sector to make the farm of the future possible. Smart farming offers high-precision crop control, useful data collection, and automated farming techniques. It is a technology where you can predict and prevent disease; monitor data on soil and crop condition in near real-time and machines can make sure that the crops are fed and watered without any intervention. The cloud means that the storage is available to store the data we will be collecting.

Businesses should aggressively focus on improving their operations for ensuring success, given the urgent requirement in the agri industry. IoT could provide a real advantage to those that embrace it by providing better quality information that aids better decision making.

The technology is here today to make the farm of the future possible: where you can predict and prevent disease; where you can view data on soil and crop condition in near real-time; and where your machines can make sure your crops are fed and watered without your intervention. The cloud means that the storage is available to store the data you will be collecting. Sensors are getting smaller and more sophisticated – and cheaper. And networks are getting more intelligent and more secure, protecting your data and making sure critical information gets through.

The battle for relevance continues…follow Shingie Levison Muringi our Technology Research Specialist and Sub Editor on Twitter @ShingieMuringi1, Email [email protected] or direct Cell: 0775 380 652 for all the latest trending technological issues in and outside Zimbabwe.

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