Without doubt, Precision Agriculture, and drones, can stand to benefit the Agricultural landscape in Kenya and the East African region. But, by just how much? Is their effect quantifiable? After all, numbers and percentages are a lot more descriptive when evaluating the inherent impact of goods or services.
In a recent study conducted by PrecisionHawk, one of the leading commercial drone companies in the US, it was found that drones, indeed, do add value, through collection of critical data pertaining to changes and anomalies observed on a farm, data that can influence a farmer’s decisions on how he uses his resources. This data is acquired through use of purpose-built equipment (NDVI imaging sensors) attached to drones, and compiled on specialized software.
The tests that were conducted found that, by using the acquired data to optimize the resource inputs on the land through Precision Farming, yields can go up by as much as 25%. That is a significant amount, considering the scale at which most agricultural projects operate. Not only this, input expenses go down as well by as much as 5%, due to reduced wastage, as the application of resources is optimized to precisely where they are needed.
So, what does all this data mean? This study was conducted on farms in the Developed world, which to a large extent, have adopted some form of technology to enhance their output. Sub-Saharan Africa, on the other hand, has predominantly not had the same privilege, meaning the market is ripe for such innovation. Not to mention the additional yields and reduced costs of operation that local farmers would stand to enjoy through risk mitigation and resource optimization, as most produce loss is often caused by factors that could have otherwise been avoided. And remember; we haven’t yet even discussed the efficiency with which drones operate.
Building our technological capacity through education and nurturing local expertise will allow the region to reap the benefits of this innovation sooner rather than later, and help drive the region towards a food-secure future.