Aerial drone to monitor crops in Northern Rwanda
Written by: Our Reporter
Sunday, December 18th, 2016, 8:40
Potato farmers in Imbaraga Cooperative Federation located in Nyabihu, Burera and Musanze districts will get an aerial drone to monitor their Irish potato crops following the launch on December 7th, 2016.
USAID's Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth Project in partnership with AgriLift Ltd launched an aerial drone to monitor crops for Irish Potato farmers in the three districts. The pilot drone-based crop monitoring technology will serve 2,000 potato farmers affiliated with 20 potato cooperatives in Imbaraga.
According to USAID Mission Director in Rwanda, Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe, the drone will take overhead images of growing crops at specific intervals and the images are then analyzed with an open-source computer model of plant growth, which was specifically developed for potato farms. The drone technology can identify the optimal maturity of potato plants for farmers, and can also spot nutrient deficient or diseased crops.
At the beginning of the September-January growing season AgriLift conducted its first drone test flights in Musanze. To date, 242 farmers’ plots from four cooperatives have been registered for flights, with 114 of these plots owned by female farmers.
AgriLift’s goal is to use this eye in the sky to provide local farmers and agribusinesses with rapid information on their crops, allowing them to take corrective measures almost immediately.
The aerial monitoring technology is intended to directly increase the income of small-scale Rwandan farmers.
The Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth (PSDAG) program is a five-year (2014-2019) project aimed at increasing smallholder farmers’ incomes by promoting private sector investments and to facilitate the transformation of agriculture into a market-oriented, competitive, and high-value sector.