According to World Population Clock (and UN projections), the global population will exceed 8.6 billion people by 2035. At that rate, farmers and agriculturalists worldwide will need to double their efforts in order to sustain the nutritional needs of an extra billion mouths to feed. This includes not only raising more livestock and growing more crops but also addressing challenges associated with crop regeneration, pest control, climate change, and waste.
The burden of supplying food often falls on developing countries where 80% of the world’s population live and 78% of global crops are harvested, according to Brooking’s Institute and data gathered by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Up until recently, many rural-agrarian farmers in Africa and Southeast Asia were unsupported, uninformed, and at the mercy of weather conditions that could ravage their crops at a moment’s notice.
Although there still is much work to be done, the emerging field of agri-tech has provided solutions for many farmers in developing countries. SIM cards are at the heart of many agri-tech solutions, five of which are detailed below.
- Real-Time Voice-Message Alerts
Many agrarian communities throughout India, Africa, and the developing world lack access to basic weather information, leaving them unprepared for droughts and storms. Nonprofits, like the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), saw a need to provide weather updates to farmers whose livelihood depend on weather conditions. Because of low literacy levels and the lack of Wi-Fi networks, ICRISAT sought out a simple solution: cellular mobile devices that delivered voice updates of weather conditions. Known as the GreenSIM initiative, ICRISAT used these mobile devices to relay weather reports from the Indian Meteorological Department to farmers across the country, helping them better prepare for storms or droughts.
- Agriculture Advice via Cell Phones and Green Phablets
In addition to weather reports, ICRISAT’s GreenSIM initiative also supplied Indian farmers with agriculture advice: how and when to rotate crops, fertilizer blend recommendations, and ways to adapt to the changing climate. Shortly after implementing GreenSIM, ICRISAT realized that farmers in agrarian communities often trusted other farmers, so they set up a system in which they could communicate with phablets (rugged tablets suited for outdoor use). These green phablets facilitated real-time video communication that enabled farmers across the country to create a mobile Village Knowledge Center.
In many cases, ICRISAT’s GreenSIM communications and resources helped Indian farmers nearly quadruple their profit. As detailed in ARS Technica, one farmer went from earning 5,000 rupees to earning 20,000 rupees simply by rotating her crops as recommended by GreenSIM.
- IoT Pest Control for Crops
According to USDA in 2014, around 40% to 50% of crops in developing countries are lost to pests, crop diseases, and post-harvest losses. While many farmers turn to pesticides to fend off invasive insects, those chemicals often do more harm than good. By monitoring both pests and chemical use with SIM-enabled devices, farmers can limit the amount of pesticides they use and develop sustainable methods of trapping and destroying pest populations.
- Automated Irrigation and Fertilization Systems
Another major challenge for farmers in developing countries is the sheer size of the land they’re cultivating and the operations involved to water and fertilize their crops. Without sustainable irrigation systems in place, many farmers in developing regions rely on rain to water their crops. Affordable technologies, like GSM irrigation pumps, can be used to set up reliable irrigation systems and automate watering practices. Arduinos also can be set up with GSM-SIM modules to provide farmers with automated fertilization control.
- Farm-to-Market (F2M) Channels and Supply Chain Management
Farmers in developing countries often have a hard time sustaining their operations because they are disconnected from consumers. Initiatives like ICRISAT’s GreenSIM Knowledge Centers have helped many farmers in India make more profit by selling directly to communities rather than relying on a middleman.
One of the most concerning challenges facing global food supply comes from loss after the food has left the farm. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.” A solid portion of this waste can be reduced by better cold-storage and supply chain management.
While IoT offers some mitigation to food loss, a solution also must focus on consumer behavior, especially in industrial developed countries. It’s still important to be mindful when purchasing food as to minimize the amount that goes in the garbage.
Neo’s SIM Card Connectivity Solutions
Neo enables SIM card connectivity for companies and communities worldwide. From our built-in single management platform, Aeris Connectivity Platform, operators can monitor and manage devices to ensure optimal performance. We offer a variety of connection speeds to suit any budget, and our growing, peer-driven Support Community can help answer any questions that you may have. Expanding IoT and agriculture to suit the needs of a growing population means expanding our global community’s ability to communicate and stay connected.
To learn more about how Neo can power your agriculture technology and operations, contact Neo today.