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Tech solutions for the upwardly mobile farmer

Crop yield is no longer hit or miss because great strides have been made in farming technology. This results in resulting improved productivity.

Tech Solutions Offer Farmers Vital Assistance 

Advances in technology have revolutionised farming operations resulting in increased production of goods, a better living standard for farmers and farm workers, growth of the country’s economy and superior produce. To maximise time and productivity, farmers use sensors, machines, devices and IT. Sophisticated technologies such as temperature and moisture sensors, robots, aerial images and GPS technology enable farms to function at higher levels of efficiency, safety and productivity.

Farmers who live in remote areas no longer have to rely solely on extension officers for advice and information because there are a number of mobile apps available such as strategy and progress checking and weather updates. Moreover, mobile phone technology transmits information to farmers much faster than humans can. 

Apps Lead The Way

Although satellite-based technology has been embraced at a relatively slow pace, farmers are seeing the benefits of apps that helps them adapt to climate change. Apps can assist in everything, from being able to play live casino games on mobile to ensuring crop yield increases and remains steady. Turning Matabeleland Green (TMG) is an initiative which improves the productive capacity and economic benefits of farmers by training and offering information, including technological updates in agriculture. 

 

Rural farmers who do not have an internet connection, receive messages from TMG via SMS. TMG can relay information to farmers about unexpected climate changes and inform farmers if an area has suffered pest invasion. A TMG representative states that about 2,000 small-scale farmers have joined the project.

Drones are used to conduct field surveys, to plant seeds over fields, to track livestock and to estimate how much the crop will yield.  Besides optimising efficiency and reducing hard labour, drones are used to supplement insect pollination, automate crop harvest, help with detasseling, and apply pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Aerial drone photographs can identify disease, weeds, pests and nutrient deficiencies in crops. 

Nutrient deficiencies and the failure of crops to thrive is often a function of drought. Given that the majority of rural farmers in Zimbabwe depend on rainfall for a living, they are vulnerable to extreme changes in weather resulting from climate change. In 2021, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) said that data from satellites helped farmers to prepare for drought and increased production by tracking soil conditions and documenting the most effective way to use water. The primary goal of using predictive technologies is to ensure that during peak production, up to 80% of staple maize is yielded and stored.

Boosted Budget

In November 2021, finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, announced that there would be a significant increase in the budget for agriculture which would go towards new technologies such as precision-farming tools, satellite, and GPS to track land arability and water availability. Many Zimbabwean farmers use device sensors to monitor pH, moisture, temperature, and nutrients in the soil resulting in increases in crop yield.

For many of Zimbabwe’s farmers, the move to satellite data and other modern technology offers hope that they might for once and for all break the cycle of poor harvests.

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