By Deborah Foy, Agricompas
In December 2019, Dr Saket Srivastav and Dr Edmond Nurellari of the University of Lincoln successfully installed wireless sensor networks in cacao fields across target field sites in Santander and Valle de Cauca, Colombia. This represented a key milestone for the development of a digitally enabled decision support tool for cacao production in Colombia.
According to Dr Nurellari, “The Internet of Things for agriculture is a rapidly emerging technology. Data collected from in-situ sensors makes it possible to monitor and control crop parameters to improve both the quantity and quality of yields. Each individual sensor node will make an estimate of a quantity, such as local temperature, humidity, soil moisture and radiation. The sensor nodes then send the data to a cloud server, allowing for online real-time predictive analytics.”
According to Roelof Kramer, CEO of Agricompas, data collected through remote sensing will ultimately enable cocoa farmers to increase efficiency on their land.
“Agricompas is thrilled to be partnering with the University of Lincoln in the Prosperity Fund’s Agri-Tech Catalyst programme. One of our goals is to deploy emerging digital technologies in Colombia in a way that can act as an impetus to smallholder cocoa bean farmers. These technologies will provide knowledge and information without the need for expensive onsite instrument and data specialists.” The team from the University of Lincoln first installed the wireless sensor nodes in Tuluá, in the Valle de Cauca region of Colombia. Valle de Cauca is home to what is the earliest known cacao plantation in Colombia, dating 1622. The team then headed to install the equipment in Rio Negro, Santander.
Deploying new technologies such as a low-cost Internet of Things and wireless sensors networks will empower cocoa farmers across Colombia to identify trouble spots much quicker and far more accurately. It will also enable them to respond to changing climate conditions to maximise crop yield and quality.
What is the Colombian Prosperity Fund? The Prosperity Fund aims to support economic development, unlock economic opportunities and lead growth in Colombia’s regions. It is targeting to benefit more than 3 million people, with a focus on women and girls in Colombia’s poorest regions. These include the departments of Antioquia, Atlántico, Caldas, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Meta, Santander and Valle del Cauca. One of the core instruments of the Prosperity Fund is the Agri-Tech Catalyst Challenge Fund, which aims to increase productivity and incomes for Colombia’s smallholders and agricultural MSEs through adoption of Agri-innovations and technologies from the UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/colombia-prosperity-programme