Agriculture and IoT for Africa
Agriculture is a vital, yet struggling, industry. Sub-Saharan Africa has 95% of arable land that is dependent on rainfall-fed agriculture. This means food crop productivity is often low, with food insecurity a constant issue. This is where the IoT can help: wireless sensors can track crop growth, soil moisture and water tank levels. Unmanned vehicles can reduce physical labour. The result will be better yields at a lower cost. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, food production must increase by 60% to be able to feed the growing population expected to hit nine billion in 2050.
With SAP’s help, John Deere for example, is taking the IoT out into the field and boosting efficiencies with the goal of improving per-acre crop yields. They are using Big Data to step into the future of farming. This interconnectivity with owners, operators, dealers and agricultural consultants helps farmers enhance productivity and increase efficiency. Sensors on their equipment help farmers manage their fleet and decrease downtime of their tractors as well as save on fuel. The information is combined with historical and real-time weather data, soil conditions, crop features and many other data sets.
Connected robots and systems can help limit the effects of a mass disaster. The ongoing Ebola outbreaks in West Africa highlight the ramifications of human contact. While current technology is still relatively immature, the future of the IoT-enabled technology and better-developed robots and outbreak control mechanisms, like SAP’s SORMAS, could see many lives saved and the spread of disease minimised.
The future looks bright, but there are still barriers to overcome. The cost of implementing the IoT is huge and investment will most likely come from outside the region. As well as that, the potential risks of hacking remain a threat as long as there is internet-enabled technology involved. And, having the right skills and training programmes in place will be imperative when making the most of the opportunities that come with new technology.