Agriculture sector firms tap benefit of Internet of Things

IoT infrastructure is helpful because of its
IoT infrastructure is helpful because of its capacity to predict occurrences. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Agriculturalists have a lot to gain from embracing the Internet of Things (IoT). Through this technology, many physical devices used in the agricultural value chain are equipped to communicate factors such as temperature and humidity to various stakeholders.

Local meat processor Farmers Choice plans to integrate the IoT infrastructure in its production line and achieve full automation. The production plant receives live animals from farmers, slaughters them, processes and then packages meat.

“You have to take care of temperature and humidity. You also have to take care of the inventory because meat is perishable so as soon as some metric goes wrong, that’s it.

“We need something being relaid to us before it happens,” said Eric Muga, Senior Systems Administrator at Farmers Choice.

Through the Microsoft Azure IoT suite which allows companies to access IoT and cloud technology, Farmer’s Choice has designed a way to receive data in real-time and avoid the risk of human error when measuring crucial factors such as weight and inventory in the business. Virtual City is a firm that provides digital solutions to firms in the agricultural supply chain including distribution of fast-moving goods.

Through their platform, stakeholders can track the quantity and movement of produce along the value chain from the farmers’ raw commodities to storage in a warehouse and eventually to local and international markets.

“The opportunity that we saw around IoT was to have cheap devices that can transmit data around temperature and humidity as the product is moving along the supply chain,” said Dennis Gathage of Virtual City.

Tracking factors that could affect perishability can guard against the same.

“We were able to come up with some tangible outputs in terms of configuring some sensors that can actually link into our Azure IoT lab. We set some really cool things like email notifications when temperatures fluctuate above a certain level,” said Mr Gathage at a media briefing on the Microsoft pop-up lab last month. “The benefits for the exporter are being able to know last week, for example, there was 1,000 kilos of a particular product in a warehouse under a certain temperature and humidity and this is potentially when the bananas are expiring,” he said.

The IoT infrastructure is also helpful because of its capacity to predict occurrences.