IT for efficient agricultureNov 21, 2016
Within the framework of the UNDP and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase III)' project, weather stations will be installed in a number of rural areas of the country. The aim of this initiative is to increase the efficiency of agriculture through the introduction of IT, automation of farming processes, optimization of planning and management processes in the sector.
FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) forecasts that by 2050 the Earth's population will exceed 9 billion. To feed the world's population, the agricultural sector needs to increase its production by 70%. At the same time, according to IBM, one of the largest companies involved in the development of IT for agriculture, 90% of crop losses are caused by weather conditions.
The solution to this problem is the introduction of IT in agriculture that offers opportunities not only to increase production efficiency with limited natural resources but to improve its profitability as well. This symbiosis of agriculture and IT is called ‘smart agriculture’ and has become common among agronomists. One of the ‘smart agriculture’ components is modelling weather conditions, analyzing and managing risk based on forecasts.
Special sensors with meteorological stations measure the weather conditions. According to the received results, farmers can make adjustments in planning agricultural activities, including rapid response to adverse weather conditions, saw as early as possible, disease prevention.
Despite the advantages of using weather stations, to date they are not widely used in Uzbekistan. The project is planned to install four weather stations in the Tashkent region, which will cover the area of around 600 hectares and on average of more than 60 horticultural farms and households located in this area will benefit.
With the assistance of a partner organization providing horticulture consulting services, farmers will receive text messages to their mobile phones with meteorological data and suggested agro-technical measures, to be taken for crops such as apples, peaches, cherries and grapes. In addition, the project is planning to organize trainings for farmers on how to use weather stations.
The weather stations operating mechanism is quite simple. A weather station powered by solar batteries, regularly sends information to the special website. A farmer through his or her private cabinet can manage weather stations, set individual parameters and adjust them to local conditions, as well as receive advice on the pest preventive work for crops previously selected.
Project experts note, that competent use of weather stations will significantly reduce the costs associated with plant protection and wages for workers. The collection and monitoring of meteorological data will help to determine the micro-climatic conditions for specific area, which will lead to proper and effective selection of agricultural technologies.
Establishment of meteorological stations is the initial step towards the implementation of ‘smart farm' concept suggesting a fully automated farming process, including livestock. It is expected, that this initiative will be the basis for the development of 'smart agriculture’ with the use of IT for improving the amount and quality of agricultural products in Uzbekistan.
This initiative is implemented with financial support of the South African company 'Sasol'.
The ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase III)’ project is a joint initiative of UNDP and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is aimed at improving the business environment through the introduction of online services, improved regulatory framework, and promoting the development of inclusive business models.