Precision Agriculture for Smallholder Farmers

Global population is estimated to rise to about 9.7 billion by 2050. Feeding it sustainably, taking into account the planet’s limited natural resources and the increasingly adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, will require the use of technology and innovation. Precision agriculture is a data-driven approach to farm management that can improve productivity and yields, thereby increasing the overall profitability of farming. It also helps reduce the need for inputs such as water and artificial fertilisers and pesticides, thus reducing the environmental footprint of farming. Advances in digital technologies like mobile phones, remote sensing using satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing, as well as their growing affordability are making precision agriculture applications accessible for smallholder farmers in developing countries. This report is meant as a guide for project managers exploring the use technology and innovation in agricultural initiatives. It provides an overview of the above technologies and the precision agriculture applications they enable, through real-world examples and use cases. It also highlights technical and operational considerations such as the technological feasibility of solutions, suitable business models for scaling up their adoption, and potential barriers such as lack of digital infrastructure and literacy and digital skills among farmers.

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