Tapping smart tech to raise smallholder farmers’ yields


US-based satellite service provider is employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help smallholder farmers in Africa to overcome the challenges of low productivity and increase their income using smart farming technology.

Earth Observing System Data Analytics (EOSDA) — a global provider of AI-powered satellite imagery — is using technology to help farmers monitor their crop throughout the farming season by offering services such as detecting water stress on plantation, diseases and other emerging issues within the field to enhance yields.

EOSDA has partnered with other digital solution providers such as Agroxchange Technology to help farmers cut losses, improve income and spur productivity.

The two firms have come up with a tailored approach of how to effectively deliver multiple digital solutions to smallholding farmers in the continent to improve their quality of lives and boost the agro sector at large.

Low levels of technology uptake for monitoring by smallholder farmers, little capacity to interpret data, cost of technology and integration of technology with extension services are some of the challenges facing producers in the continent.

“Our approach to mitigating these constraints lies in the delivery of multiple digital solutions integrated into a bundled innovative service through the smart farming advisory and technical centre,” said Adewale Adegoke, the chief executive of Agroxchange Technology during a webinar session organised by EOSDA.

“Through this approach, we offer tailored, democratised services using a top down approach to achieve the expected impact of resilience and improved farmer livelihoods.”

Africa has 65 percent of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land and presence of sunshine nearly the whole year.

The continent has also rich and fertile soil across most of the countries with 60 percent of Africa’s working population engaging in agricultural activities in a region that produces all the principal grains such as corn, wheat and rice and key beverages like coffee and tea. Despite all this, the continent is still grappling with low productivity and a high import bill on food.

“For digital agriculture in Africa to flourish, technology owners require all the support of local partners. Through EOSDA’s example of partnering, we have proven that the right kind of partnership can truly facilitate service delivery,” said Rim Elijah, Director of Strategic Partnerships at EOSDA.

EOSDA main product in the agriculture industry is Crop Monitoring, an online satellite field service that collects all the important information about the state of crops in one tool.

Mr Adegoke said applying smart farming technologies in smallholder farming requires a fit-for-purpose strategy that is systematic, to generate tangible and measurable outcomes that include food security and job creation.

“In the context of precision agriculture, insight is critical to achieving high yields and improvement to farmers livelihood. Satellite technology is pivotal to ensuring this," he said.