The Government of Zimbabwe is launched the Smart Agriculture Blueprint which will make path as the nation journey towards transforming agricultural systems to make them more ICT based and as such more efficient and productive.
Addressing delegates during the official launch, the ICT minister Hon Jenfan Muswere said that to set the blueprint into action, they are hitting the ground running by handing ICT equipment to ensure successful implementation of the blueprint to modernise agricultural systems through the adoption of Smart Agriculture initiatives, in line with our Vision 2030.
Here is his speech during the event
The ICT equipment I am handing over today would be used by Agricultural Extension Officers for enhanced record management of land sizes, livestock and farming activities in each household, plot or farm. This would go a long way in improving efficiency in the provision of agricultural extension services to farmers. Proper and accurate record keeping and quick record retrieval through the Agricultural Information Management System would also assist in ensuring that Presidential inputs are distributed equitably in line with one’s specific requirements.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my Government is prioritising Smart Agriculture initiatives after Zimbabwe was nominated to lead the Smart Agriculture flagship under the Smart Africa Alliance, a grouping of 36 African countries working together towards transforming the continent through ICTs and Innovation.
Leading a Smart Africa flagship program entails that the nominated country would come up with a blueprint for the development of the project in Africa. It also entails that the nominated country would come up with and implement digital tools and solutions that fall under the respective flagship in its own country to then be replicated by other countries.
When we speak of Agriculture, as a nation, our reputation precedes us. Agriculture is what drives us and what identifies us as a people. The success of our land reform program, the success of our various agricultural initiatives such as the Pfumvudza/ Intwasa program, our increasing maize and wheat production and our dominance in Tobacco production on the continent made Zimbabwe the natural choice to run with the Smart Agriculture initiative.
In pursuit of the Smart Agriculture agenda, through the Agricultural and Research Development Authority (ARDA), Government has identified a piece of land where Smart Agriculture solutions would be piloted. I am informed that the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services as well as the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) are working closely with ARDA to identify and set up relevant Smart Agriculture Solutions at this farm.
I am happy to note that work is underway to get various Smart Agriculture projects up and running. I am informed that an interactive digital platform where farmers can interact with Government, suppliers, buyers and sellers in the agricultural sector is under development. The services on the digital platform which would be accessible on both smart and feature phones – Kambudzi – will include among others financial, advisory and equipment hire services.
Under the Smart Agriculture flagship program, we are also looking at spraying crops and undertaking field assessments using drones among other remote real-time crop monitoring solutions. There are also plans to use driverless tractors as one of the robotics projects that would be implemented by Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, as part of the Smart Agriculture projects we will introduce livestock tracking and monitoring as well as tracking of bee colonies using Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This will involve things like facial recognition of livestock to assist farmers in identifying their flock.
In addition to this, the Government under the Smart Agriculture program, will also introduce climate-controlled greenhouses where sensors monitor heat, moisture and stress of crops. We shall also introduce farming solutions that eliminate the use of soil, which is known as hydroponics.
I am informed that some of the solutions were identified through the National Innovation Drive, which I launched in 2018 and that some of the innovations are already at the commercialisation stage. As a nation, we should continue on such a trajectory of innovation to find Zimbabwean solutions to Zimbabwean challenges. Only through such an approach can we bring meaningful development to our country and continent. Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo