Food shortage is a real problem in Nigeria and across Africa.

While farmers continue to toil all year round on their farms, changes in climate and dwindling soil quality has made food scarcity a reality.

To put the challenge into perspective, 1 in 9 people on earth is undernourished according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

By 2050, when the world’s population will balloon, and there will be up to 278 million people in Nigeria, 70% more food will be needed to keep the population hungry-free.

But besides the need for food, agriculture is a money-spinner.

It contributes up to 30% of global GDP and global agriculture revenue is estimated at about $4.8 trillion.

But farmers in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa continue to struggle with their output, with many depending on luck.

This challenge now appears to have a solution – Precision Farming.

Precision Farming or Precision Agriculture is a farming management concept of using technology and data to increase output while saving resources.

It was one of the main focuses of the maiden edition of Techfest which held in Lagos.

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Speaking on the farming concept, Ope Olaniran, who is the Business Group Director of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft said,

“Precision farming helps farmers take information around soil analysis, soil temperature, geomapping data and build an algorithm on top of that, for the farmer to be able to predict the optimal day to put a seed in the soil to get the optimal yield.”

“It sounds a bit far-fetched but the whole point is utilising data that is publicly available, understanding the dynamics in the field to help increase farm yields,” he added.

Apparently, Microsoft, according to Olaniran, has piloted this in India with about 5,000 farmers across 5 different crops.

The strategy was successful. It came out with 30% increase in yield.

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Basically, the concept uses geomapping, which helps the farmer to produce maps including soil type, nutrients levels etc in layers and assign that information to a particular field location.

Sensors mounted on moving machines and remote sensing are also used to collect data from a distance to evaluate soil and crop health (moisture, nutrients, compaction, crop diseases, etc).

According to Olaniran, satellite imagery is also deployed and used to predict if there is a likelihood for a particular pest to break in a particular area.

As a farmer, it is important to understand how application of this type of technology will affect your business.

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