Have you ever imagined how a mobile phone whose coordinates can be located is able to transform a farmer’s life?
It is possible, thanks to geographic information systems (GIS) which has enabled the mapping of spatial features on earth. This allows enquiry into the geography of any location and acquisition of information like land use, soil status and weather patterns etc.
The data obtained through GIS can be modeled to make predictions on feasible cropping options for specific geographic areas. Equipped with such information and indigenous knowledge a farmer is able to do detailed sustainability assessment and ensure precision farming.
According to researcher Dr. G. Chirima, while speaking at the Third Global Conference on Agriculture Research for Development (GCARD3), “Investment in remote sensing and imaging in agriculture is central to reducing poverty, food insecurity and hunger in low-income countries”.
But how possible is it for developing countries?
Well, in Sub-Saharan Africa the mobile telecommunications density is estimated to be more than 80% penetrating even the remote areas. Mobile phone can act as vital information conduits between farmers and sources of GIS data.
Institutions like the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources (RCMRD) are equipped with tools on geographic information systems, which can be utilized in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region. The Agriculture Research Council of South Africa (ARC) has also initiated research on integrating GIS data and agriculture production.
Linking farmers to regional institutions with GIS data through mobile telecommunications represents the first opportunity for investment in remote sensing and imaging in agriculture. In doing so, researchers should ensure that indigenous knowledge is integrated with GIS so that the farmers’ knowledge is complemented by modern technology.
Blogpost by Farirai Mageza, #GCARD3 Social Reporter –fgmageza(at)gmail.com
Photo Credit: Asa Strong
This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.