By Nita Karume :
The East Africa Digital Conference and Exhibition is set to be the first ever of its kind in Kenya. This is as far as digital farming is concerned. The event dubbed Harness the benefits of technology and drive adoption of these tools by farmers will kick off on Tuesday, 29th of May at the KALRO Headquarters, Kaptagat Road in Nairobi at 10.00am.
The event is organized by Smart Farmer Africa in partnership with KALRO and Standard Media Group as Media Partners. It aims to help farmers and other value chain actors to take advantage of the benefits of digital technology in farming. And they, in turn, to spearhead the adoption of these digital tools. Digital farming has enabled farmers to gain easy access to markets, and quality seed as well as accurate weather prediction.
The conference will bring together government ministries, international development agencies, smallholder farmers, farmer groups, the public and over 50 firms in agriculture, technology and investment to name but a few. It will also provide a platform for networking and knowledge sharing on how to best harness the power of digital technology in agriculture.
Digital Farming is the application of new technologies such as data science, digital communication channels, and automation on the field. This way more and more farmers have access to better insights to take more optimal decisions and drive up yields.
For instance, in crop nutrition, it will mean finding the optimum fertilization program for individual fields, helping farmers to decide when and how much to apply, and react to variations in different parts of a field.
The advent of digital farming is a step toward finding a way to produce more food with the use of less resources and in a more responsible way. This is because challenges such as the demand for higher quality food, climate change, water scarcity and significant population growth are gradually increasing. As such, there is need to come up with new weapons to not only improve the way we grow food, but maintain it as well.
Essentially, digital technology enables us to bring know-how to remote farms and reach millions of farmers. Furthermore, it could not come at a more opportune time, since according to FAO, the world is plagued with a challenge of developing lasting solutions to feed a projected nine billion people by the year 2050.
This, according to the report, will require a 70% increase in food production. Additionally, the World Bank has noted that such efforts require to be increased by ensuring minimal food losses and efficient supply chain management efforts in order to contribute to the population predictions. That is, besides increasing productivity.
Digital farming is expected to play a major role in agricultural development in the developing world. This is because many ICT solutions have proven affordable to small holder and resource poor farmers that make up about 80% of the farming community in the region.
As such, digital farming becomes necessary in addressing many of these concerns by enabling, enhancing and facilitating solutions in the sector. This, in turn, helps in the realization of outcomes in agriculture that initially would have taken a longer period to achieve.