With the demand for food higher than ever, farmers don’t have time to struggle with plant diseases and crop failures. And to address these challenges, my innovation for sustaining crop protection is the application of agricultural drone device in the agricultural sector (commercial farms, research institutes, investors, and large private farm). A drone is a tool that can span the entire crop analysis workflow with the insights they need to maximize their yields and boost crop quality. The products include a video surveillance system for home and small business, Network Camera, Thermal Camera, UAV/Drones, multi-spectrum camera, and Multi-Spectrum based on Drone platform Suite Kit. The drone device works in a simple way like this; sensors and remote sensing collect data from a distance to evaluate soil and crop health, such as the presence of pest and diseases. The drone captures images and provides data allowing permanent monitoring of a crop from planting to harvest. They can also help farmers react faster to threats such as weed insects fungi saving time scouting crops to take appropriate actions and improve the application of variable inputs rate in real time. The data is processed in the cloud and translated into useful information such as plant health and pest infestation. This technology allows the farmer to manage crops, soil, fertilizing and irrigation more effectively.
As the human population in Nigeria continues to grow, there is a need for farmers to produce more and more food. Increasing agricultural productivity is critical to meeting the food security and economic development objectives in the face of rapid population growth. Currently, the farm sector supports over 80% of the people in Nigeria. The GDP from agriculture in Nigeria increased to 5288339.21 NGN million in the third quarter of 2018 from 3789720.12 NGN Million in the second quarter of 2018 and it is projected to trend around 5834951.00 NGN Million in 2020, according to our econometric models. Given this, there are a lot of potentials in the Nigeria agricultural sector, and if properly funded, achieving food security through crop protection in the face of rapid population increase will not be an unrealistic dream.
How my company will implement drone technology for sustainable crop protection
My drone technology will support Nigeria farmers (and society) in sustainable crop protection. The use of inputs, fertilizers, and pesticides is becoming a common practice among farmers in Nigeria to boost productivity. The associated deleterious effects include hazards to man, non-target organisms and environment. The use of drone technology will provide adequate information about pest prevalence on the farm when pictorial images are captured. The extent of economic damage by pests will be promptly known. This will give precision about pesticides use, when to use and how much to use. This will help to maintain the agro-ecosystem biodiversity, ensuring sustainable production.
More so, alternative control measures can be easily introduced to combat pest infestation if known on time which drone technology (real-time imagery) will provide. This will make pesticide use as the last option where other control measures fail. Drone technology will also help to know how to isolate pest infested areas from healthy areas of the farm. After successfully installing the technology on farmers field, it will help scout farm fields quickly and efficiently. Rather than having growers evaluate fields manually on foot or by tractors, the drone technology will allow farmers to gain immediate knowledge about the field status in shorter periods.
The technology is environmentally friendly and poses no threat to society because the technology will help reduce excess fertilizer that runs off into nearby rivers and streams by increasing water and fertilizer efficiency. Less runoff decreases the algal blooms and dead zones in our water systems.
To implement this technology against pests and diseases of crops, commercial farmers will be trained on how to use information technology for mapping and spraying. The drone technology (unmanned aerial vehicles) will ensure that crops receive precisely what they need for optimum health. To apply this or demonstrate this on the farmers’ field, myself and my team will go through a plot that is showing disease, and we rate it on a scale of disease incidence and severity. The drone will be used to rate the plots like we would with our eye. The rating system is on a scale from 1 to 10 and evaluates how many of the plants have symptoms of the disease, and how severe those symptoms are. The whole process will help commercial farmers manage the health of the fields.
My company (MyAgricWorld Agribusiness Consulting Firm) will first gather farmers, researchers, investors, government officials and other relevant stakeholders about the importance of drone technology. It’s true that the technology is entirely new in Nigeria and works well for crop production on a large scale, a consortium will help open their mind to the future and how drone technologies play an essential role. This will assist in making decisions that will first encourage large scale farming, increase investment, increase access to loan and adoption of this technology. Next, there will be a virtual simulation of drone use to these stakeholders, after which field practicals to display how the technology works. I will build a platform for investors/farmers who are interested in the technology and commence training before, during and after the acquisition of the technology.
This innovation will be installed on our farm first for clients to see how it function. Our company will take more steps in employing staffs (Target: Intern students, unemployed graduates, and unskilled labor). We will train them on how to install the device on farmers’ field. On our website, we will launch a page about the benefits of drone technology and make adverts on Radio, Television, and social media.
Before the opening of this grant application, I have already identified and contacted the product suppliers. If my innovation/idea is selected and fund, the supplier will be reached, and the order will be placed on the product. The suppliers of the products are, Parrot based in France (Bluegrass drone), DJI found in the USA (Drone), Sentara, based in Switzerland (Senetera Quad), MicaSense, Airinov, and AGNAV.
The application of this technology to the agricultural sector is still new, making stakeholders limited. The target clients or customers are commercial farms (Masube Farms, Olam farm, Tuns farm, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo farm Ogun state, etc.) and Research Institutes (Cocoa Research Institutes, Rubber Research Institutes, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) etc.
As an Agribusiness Consultant and Teaching Assistant, to train and mentor farmers, NGOs and cooperative societies have always been my work. I have always been updating them with innovation in the agricultural sector. I have a direct link with the educational and research institutes. In September 2018, I participated in the launching of the Drone field demonstration at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (where I’m also serving as a Teaching Assistant) https://wp.me/p79JiX-a3. I have the theoretical knowledge, required human resources, skills, and resources (excluding financial resource) to get the idea of working.
Considering the target location for the project, Southwest and Northern part of Nigeria, there are over 35,000 farms in the region. The success of this innovation will be testimonies or feedback received from the clients, investors, and farmers using their annual revenue as an indicator. The project will have a positive social impact in Nigeria as it will create employment for Nigerians. It will create jobs for more people in its first three years of operation. As the manager of the project, I will be needing more helping hands for the installation, training, and transportation of the drone devices to farmers’ field. In view of this, not less than 50 jobs will be created in the first year of operation (skilled and unskilled). The application of this project in the agricultural sector will help increase food production and reduce poverty in our society. Precision agricultural technologies, such as guidance systems and automatic section controllers, will give farmers the ability to more effectively apply crop inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, and seed.
Being a Nigerian means so much to me. To manage resources in an efficient and effective way has always been my passion. The motivation behind this project/idea is because of my years of experience, knowledge and acquired training in Precision Farming. I have identified it as a way to increase food production and how to have broad knowledge on how the crop, soil and various agronomic practices interact to ensure optimum crop yield. As an Agric. officer and Agribusiness consultant, training farmers, organizations and cooperative societies have always been my work. As an academician (Teaching/Research assistant), I have a direct link with the educational and research institutes. In the last six years, I have always been impacting, mentoring and training farmers on how to profitability invest in agriculture and increase food production in our society. https://www.myagricworld.com/training-session/.Given this, I strongly believe that creating awareness and selling the innovation to the end users will not be a problem.
Being a beneficiary of this grant will be a dream come true for me. I desire to make a commendable contribution to the Nigeria Agricultural sector as well in my community. This grant will enable me to expand the scope and operation of my company. Extending the service and scope of operation means, increasing the number of staffs working for me, thereby creating employment in my community. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is at an alarming rate. Therefore, this project is believed to help reduce unemployment and better the lives of the people in my community.
Dotun Nathaniel Arije, Nigeria