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Digital innovations may help in agricultural challenges

Smallholder farmers produce around 80 per cent of the food consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How might IoT innovations develop to respond to their needs?

They are confronted with challenges such as decreasing plot sizes, hostile environments (through drought, flood or soil erosion), unstable markets and the scarcity of water and energy.

For many these problems are likely to intensify in the coming years and decades.IoT innovations may offer viable solutions in some of these areas.

Internet of Things (IoT) is the communication and networking of  internet connected devices for purposes of exchanging information,for example from a device in the green house to the farmers  mobile device (phone).IoT then facilitates the collection and use of data.

Dependence on rain-fed agriculture coupled with the erratic cycles of drought and floods contribute the highest to instances of crop failure and poor yields among smallholder farmers. Technology service providers have in the recent past trained their sights on the country’s agriculture sector as prime for disruption through the latest in digital technologies.

For instance, technologies that can predict weather and analyze data to determine the best planting time of the season.

Kenya’s rapid adoption of mobile technology and relative digital savvy population has pushed both local and international companies to explore how artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) can be used to alleviate some of the inefficiencies in the agricultural sector.

While the adoption of IoT technology within the agriculture industry is still in greenfield, consumers are now smarter and more conscious of what they are consuming.

Twenty years ago, the average consumer would not have been concerned with food safety nor were there digital platforms to sell or buy  agro commodity.

With a platform connected to the cloud, farmers can  monitor vital farming processes. They can collect real-time data about planting, soil preparation, fertilizing, harvesting, and more – allowing them to better manage their farms. And with real-time data at their fingertips, they can determine the exact amount of fertilizer to apply in each section of farmland. This will result in increased productivity, the right amount of fertilizer used, and sustainable farming.