Agriculture in Kenya dominates Kenya’s economy with 15–17 percent of Kenya’s total land area having sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed. Agriculture is the largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2005, agriculture, including forestry and fishing, accounted for about 24 percent of the GDP, as well as 18 percent of wage employment and 50 percent of revenue from exports. Kenya is a leading producer of tea and coffee, as well as the third-leading exporter of fresh products, such as cabbages, onions and mangoes. Small farms grow most of the corn and also produce potatoes, bananas, beans and peas.
Food and nutrition security are among the government’s pillars in the 2018-2022 action (https://big4.president.go.ke/). Despite farming being the most important economic sector in Kenya, pests and diseases have continued to cause a lot of losses to farmers. This is caused by lack of information and appropriate solution by the farmers on how to control these diseases in an efficient way.
Innovative Solution: the auto fly agriculture drone (UAV) pesticide crop sprayer
- It can effectively reduce working costs and significantly improve working efficiency. Compared with the traditional artificial spraying operations, using this drone, reduces the labor intensity of the workers and avoids workers inhalation of pesticide particles. This model has high structural strength and high working stability. It also has the advantages of stable flight working, simple operation, easy maintenance, safe and reliable and low maintenance costs.
- The fuselage uses the enclosed design and effectively prevents the pesticide particles into the control system. It provides the safeguard for the long-time stable working.
- The flight control system has built-in GPS, electronic compass and barometer. It can be upgraded to fly with imitation function. It is possible to maintain an accurate good spray height and spray line during flight. The working speed and spray width of the drone can be set, to achieve uniform spraying.
- Intelligent spray, the drone can automatic spray when flying, automatically stop spray when hovering, saving pesticides while eliminating the consequences caused by too much spray during hovering.
- The pesticides fog has a strong penetration under strong wind pressure. Pesticide particles reach the stem and the back of leaves of the crop.
- The drone has the function of break-point memory and break pesticides to remind. After reloading pesticides, the drone can automatically fly to the break-point.
- The drone has A-B point line function, it can set the start point and end point of single-line spray to make the working easier.
In its most recent World Urbanization Prospects report, the UN predicts that, by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This growing urbanization will lead to a decrease of the rural area workforce. Innovative technologies using cognitive systems will help address this challenge by easing farmers’ work, removing the need for large numbers of people to work the land. Many operations will be done remotely, processes will be automated, risks will by identified and issues solved before occurring. Farmers will be able to take more informed and rapid decisions. In the future, the right mix of skills will probably increasingly be technology and agricultural skills rather than pure agricultural.
This innovation is at the prototyping stage awaiting mass production and commercialization. The government of Kenya under their agenda on food security shall be our major stakeholder while the farmers shall be the major beneficiaries of the innovation. Seeing the challenge that my mother and grand parents went through fighting pest and crop disease and my Aunt becoming sick after contact with pesticide has prompted me to use my innovation skills through artificial intelligence to design the Auto fly Agriculture Drone (UAV) Pesticide crop sprayer.
Kelvin Macharia Kuria, Kenya