Technology use to improve farming techniques has existed since the beginning of the technological revolution itself. Mapping of farms, specifically, to advance farmer knowledge and maximize yields has occurred since 1970 when satellites began processing weather data. Generally, only the most developed countries and large-scale farmers have access to this advanced technology. Barriers still exist in developing countries where smallholder farmers are unable to capture the value of technology due to deficiency of plot allocation, underdeveloped information networks, and overall lack of expertise in management of the tools. The impacts, however, can be significant. Drone technology provides an efficient means of increasing information available to farmers who do not have access to these metrics otherwise – the technology can assess for crop deficiencies and optimal harvesting times. Rwanda is a primarily agrarian economy, and increasing yields not only benefits the farmers but the overall economy. This is not only good for smallholder farmers but for the GDP of the country and its overall growth rate as well.
AgriLift is an agricultural technology company that uses drones to fly over farms and capture data. It then uses a web-based platform to analyze the data for diseases, crop growth and meteorological information. The captured information is sent back to farmers; allowing them to improve their techniques, maximize their resources and eventually their yields as well. Drone technology reduces the costs usually associated with constant crop monitoring, where satellite technology is expensive and often vulnerable to cloud coverage, and it can benefit people throughout the value chain, from farmers to processors, traders, input dealers, financial service providers and government.
Drone use in Rwanda has been highly reported on in the context of aiding delivery of essential medication to rural areas. Laws in Rwanda are highly favorable to the use of drones across all sectors. In the case of agriculture, the specific type of drone is not as important as how the information is processed and integrated into a farmer’s techniques. When considering agriculture development in Rwanda and East Africa, on the ground and implementable solutions that solve for an actual need and can be efficient in the long-term are crucial considerations. By simplifying the presentation of data and making it easily accessible, we are working to account for many of the problems that face development projects.
Countries with structural challenges are often the ones best equipped to take advantage of technological innovations coming out of the developed world. In Rwanda, the newest and most innovative technologies are being used to benefit the ones that would not have had access to it otherwise. AgriLift is using drone technology to impact the quality of life of those in the most rural areas. With investment in the private sector, Rwanda’s GDP is growing at a rate higher than developed economies. With a focus on using innovative technology to reach the country’s most in need, there is potential to become a middle-income country in the near term.
Artificial Intelligence and use of technology will play a role in changing and defining new ways to work and interact. There are countless applications of the technological revolution in the developing world – sustainable and efficient means of development. Rwanda is ready to reap the benefits of the technological revolution, and to implement the use of technology into its everyday life to create long-term sustainable changes that impact the lives of everyone.