What is agritech?

Agricultural technology – commonly abbreviated to agritech is the use of technology and technological innovation to improve the efficiency and output of agriculture. Put simply it is the application of technology to improve all elements of the farming and growing process.

The application of Agritech can be to grow more food from less space or using less water. It can be the use of robots to replace manual labor for planting or picking crops. It can also be the use of big data, machine learning, and AI to understand more about the soil or growing conditions to improve yield.

What are some differences between traditional and modern agriculture?

Modern agriculture uses advanced technology, it is less labor-intensive than traditional agriculture, and the yield quantity is larger.

Why AgriTech?

By 2030, the world population is expected to reach 8.5 billion, with more than half of that growth occurring in Africa. We will need to increase food availability by at least 60 percent to meet the demand of the additional people on the planet. Agriculture must change and grow now to meet the needs of the future.

Agricultural technology (AgriTech) is essential for this growth. AgriTech can allow for tremendous progress in crop yields, farm productivity, plant and animal health, sustainability, waste reduction, and scalability. AgriTech is a fast-growing industry ripe for innovative business models and opportunities. It is good for business and needs for people.

AgriTech sectors:

1. Agritech and IoT in farming

Digital technologies and the internet of things (IoT) are driving a transformation through smart agriculture solutions that help farmers do more with less. For example, sensors and other IoT-enabled devices gather volumes of critical data in real time. These devices include video solutions that gather data for animal monitoring, drones and robots that assess crop quality and growth, and more. New technologies are also being developed to enhance and automate processes traditionally performed by people, especially in food processing, where it is essential to prepare food products safely for storage and distribution to market.

With IoT devices and agriculture automation, immense amounts of data can be collected quickly and accurately. The rapid analysis of this real-time data can then be used to make decisions faster, and to guide precise adjustments to operational processes. Additionally, data analytics can lead to the discovery of patterns and longer-term opportunities for fundamental optimization of these operational processes. When farmers have accessible, complete, and accurate real-time data and analytics-driven insights, they can make informed decisions quickly on a broad level to drive improved outcomes in food production across every aspect of the agriculture ecosystem.

areas deploy IoT:

  • Soil Monitoring – Monitor soil oxygen levels and soil respiration.
  • Smart Irrigation – Monitor soil moisture levels and soil water potential. Control irrigation systems and valves.
  • Solar radiation (Photosynthetically active radiation) – the impact of PAR on plant or crop growth.
  • Weather stations – Rainfall, wind, and sunlight.
  • Livestock tracking – location tracking and movement patterns of livestock
  • Temperature & Humidity – the environmental conditions of cattle sheds, hen houses, and barns.

2.Smart Farming: The Future of Agriculture:

“Smart farming” is an emerging concept that refers to managing farms using technologies like IoT, robotics, drones and AI to increase the quantity and quality of products while optimizing the human labor required by production

What is a Smart Farm?

Smart Farming is an emerging concept that refers to managing farms using modern Information and Communication Technologies to increase the quantity and quality of products while optimizing the human labor required.

Among the technologies available for present-day farmers are:

  • Sensors: soil, water, light, humidity, temperature management
  • Software: specialized software solutions that target specific farm types or Applications agnostic IoT platforms
  • Location: GPS, Satellite, etc.
  • Robotics: Autonomous tractors, processing facilities, etc.
  • Data analytics: standalone analytics solutions, data pipelines for downstream solutions, etc.

3.ِAutomated Irrigation:

 Automation of irrigation systems has several positive effects. Once installed, the water distribution on fields or small-scale gardens is easier and does not have to be permanently controlled by an operator. There are several solutions to design automated irrigation systems. Modern big-scale systems allow big areas to be managed by one operator only. Sprinkler, drip or subsurface drip irrigation systems require pumps and some high tech-components and if used for large surfaces skilled operators are also required. Extremely high-tech solutions also exist using GIS and satellites to automatically measure the water needs content of each crop parcel and optimise the irrigation system.

Advantages

  1. Automation eliminates the manual operation of opening or closing valves
  2. Possibility to change frequency of irrigation and fertigation processes and to optimise these processes
  3. Adoption of advanced crop systems and new technologies, especially new crop systems that are complex and difficult to operate manually
  4. Use of water from different sources and increased efficiency in water and fertiliser use
  5. System can be operated at night, water loss from evaporation is thus minimised
  6. Irrigation process starts and stops exactly when required, thus optimising energy requirements

Disadvantages

  1. The systems can be very expensive
  2. Self-help compatibility is very low with big-scale systems, which are very complex
  3. Most automated irrigation systems need electricity

4.Animal production & Livestock

Everything in the digital age is connected, including farming and agriculture. Livestock technology can enhance or improve the productivity capacity, welfare, or management of animals and livestock.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Livestock Technology:

Sensor and data technologies have huge benefits for the current livestock industry. It can improve the productivity and welfare of livestock by detecting sick animals and intelligently recognizing room for improvement. Computer vision allows us to have all sorts of unbiased data that will get summarized into meaningful, actionable insights. Data-driven decision-making leads to better, more efficient, and timely decisions that will advance the productivity of livestock herds.

However, there are some unintended consequences of this technology. In the digitalization of industries, agriculture is often at the bottom of all charts for technology adoption. The cyclical nature of economics in the livestock industry makes it difficult for producers to justify the initial steep upfront costs of implementing these technologies.

Farmers Financial Inclusion:

Financial inclusion is a method of offering banking and financial services to individuals. It aims to include everybody in society by giving them basic financial services regardless of their income or savings. It focuses on providing financial solutions to the economically underprivileged. The term is broadly used to describe the provision of savings and loan services to the poor in an inexpensive and easy-to-use form. It aims to ensure that the poor and marginalised make the best use of their money and attain financial education. With advances in financial technology and digital transactions, more and more startups are now making financial inclusion simpler to achieve.

When it comes to smallholder farmers what do we mean by financial inclusion? Many people, especially those working in the financial sector, would immediately say: agricultural loans are too risky: farmers default on their loans because of drought, pests, low prices or many of the other problems that farmers have to deal with. And it is true, the business of farming knows many risks, so do we want to add another risk, the risk of default, to the farmer’s life? In other words do farmers need loans? The answer might not be as obvious as you think

For a farmer to produce, she needs seeds, fertilizers, tractor services and crop protection products, plus the advisory services that allow her to make good use of the inputs and get a crop that is marketable. Because when products are sold, farmers get the income that can be re-invested in the next cycle.

So who should be funding agricultural production? everyone that derives the benefit of that agricultural production: so apart from farmers these are also the seed companies, agrodealers, fertilizer companies, aggregators and processors. Together they should make sure that farmers have what they need to produce: inputs can be sold on credit and processors can give inputs on credit to secure supply; the larger the company the less issues they have to obtain financing from a financial institution. Farmers will invest their saved income from the last season and might need an agricultural insurance to make sure they can deliver on their commitments to the input companies and off-takers.

AgriTech in Sudan

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