As our global food and drinking supplies start to strain under an ever-growing population, IoT technology has never been more crucial than it is now in helping to advance the “smart farming” industry and meet these increasing demands. Western countries with money and investments are already reaping the rewards of farming technology, but how is IoT for farming helping developing countries?
IoT for farming is anticipated to have a massive impact on the development of agriculture and a report by 360 Market Updates, has suggested that the global smart farming market will grow at a CAGR of 12.24% during the period 2017-2021 – and is primarily attributed to information and communication technology (ICT) in farming.
African nations such as Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria – and other developing countries – are already investing in IoT for farming, amongst other agri-tech, deploying affordable and user-friendly mobile and web solutions that are directing data straight to the farmers. This is providing real time information on weather conditions and market information, as well as providing accessibility to general farming information that’s shared between communities. For low-income or illiterate farmers, or those still practicing the traditional methods of farming, accessing and sharing this data can educate them on what crops to grow, when to plant, how to fertilise, when to sell and for what price, with the ultimate goal of increasing crop yields and income.
But growing more food isn’t the only concern developing countries are facing. Managing a clean water supply for drinking and irrigation is still an issue that is proving difficult to solve, with around 200 million African’s still collecting their water from a manual pump. It is estimated that 70% of pumps break within 18 months of use, which heavily impacts the water supply. To address this, IoT sensors are now being deployed to capture the movement of pump handles in real time. This allows manufacturers to calculate when maintenance needs to be carried out before the pumps fail, reliably improving access to drinking and irrigation water, and preventing irreversible damage to food crops.
Ultimately, the success of IoT for farming in such countries is still heavily reliant on investment in digital literacy as well as reliable connectivity solutions. Cellular is one such solution; able to reach even the most remote locations, and with data costs continuously lowering, it can be effective even in developing countries. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) in particular, though still relatively new, is set to offer farmers and rural communities low cost, long range and long battery life connectivity, creating hyper-connected farms that could monitor every asset from the soil to livestock.
IoT technology will inevitably expose vastly untapped sources of information for developing countries, helping to make their farming resources more reliable and effective. The ambition? To allow farmers to modernise and create an efficient and predictable food production chain, at a time when population growth is a global concern.
You can read more about how the IoT for farming is leveraging cellular connectivity on our rural broadband solutions page.