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Using drones to boost agriculture in Burkina Faso

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Blog

The ambitious objective of the “Eyes in the Sky, Smart Techs on the Ground” project, initiated by the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), is to transform agriculture in African countries through the promotion of drone usage. I took part in the project as Director General of Cargitech Sarl, alongside several other African entrepreneurs.

A day in the life of a drone operator

Following an initial meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in July 2018, for an initiation on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and business management, CTA (in partnership with Parrot, a drone manufacturing company) invited Cargitech Sarl to attend another meeting a few kilometres outside of Cape Coast, in Ghana. The second phase of the training was focused on the practical aspects of drone operation such as piloting, gathering data and safety regulations.

The various trainings on offer has allowed us to strengthen our capabilities around the practical usage of drones. The skills learnt and the knowledge acquired on drone technology, the capturing and processing of images and the services and offers that exist in the market have changed our perceptions of professional drones. We have now become drone operators, offering farmers and organisations innovative services which aim to improve agricultural production and assist decision making. Our ability to efficiently pilot drones has improved significantly, alongside our ability to justify projects based on drone technology and to convince partners.

Cargitech Sarl, has been able to acquire a Parrot Bluegrass drone in order to strengthen our logistical ability and improve our services whilst also making them more profitable and innovative.

A remarkable tool for African agriculture

In Burkina Faso, drones are mostly considered as recreational equipment, used to take photos and videos during ceremonies. Their professional usage remains underdeveloped, while the market has potential for significant growth for suppliers of drone services who focus on agricultural and rural development projects. Thanks to the growth of agribusinesses and the influence of associations and agricultural groups, farmers are more aware of, and open to, new technologies which can help improve agricultural output. Drones are seen as a remarkable tool which can help easily obtain real-time data on land, crops, livestock and the environment.

Image capture and the gathering of key information for agronomists, researchers, farmers, environmentalists and decision makers, position drones as a truly innovative service and approach. Having already proved their worth in Europe, and also in several African countries, they can bring numerous solutions to developing markets such as Burkina Faso. Their impact on the rural economy can be measured through development projects piloted by agricultural groups and economic growth centres. We also realise that investors are relying on drones more and more to help track progress on their projects.

Developing new services with drones

Supporting African agriculture, in particular in Burkina Faso, through agricultural advice given to farmers, is a priority for Cargitech Sarl. We are convinced that drones, due to their performance, will boost agriculture. For example, they help to analyse the topography of fields, the condition of agricultural infrastructure, the health of plant-life, count plants, following agricultural production, and to improve yields.

The discovery of new drone services has changed our strategy and approach towards partners and potential clients. This has also led to business leaders integrating drones into their core activities, such as topography and planning projects. Multiple internal and external training projects are being created to help raise awareness amongst stakeholders and to promote the usage of drones.

Today, we take great satisfaction from the fact that Cargitech Sarl is continuing to develop its offer in the agricultural sector based on the usage of drones.

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