Uganda Eyes Drone Technology In Agriculture To Improve Food Security

By Staff Published: January 2, 2016, 3:19 am

From New Vision

They are more associated with spying, but unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), will soon be deployed in Uganda to help farmers increase agricultural output and enhance food security.

A drone is operated using a remote control and flies using propellers. It can be fitted with a knapsack in case the operator is interested in spraying crops.

“Drone technology is trending in surveillance, but it can be used in agriculture,” said Okasai Opolot, a director in the Ministry of Agriculture. He added that drone technology is versatile.

Opolot cited spraying as one of the activities where drone technology could be used to cover more than two villages in a day. He added that this could help farmers in Teso sub-region where pests have been affecting oranges.

According to the agriculture ministry, Teso is known to have more than five million orange trees and an estimated 1.5 million trees of mangoes.

He pointed out that discussions are taking place within the Government to introduce the technology in the agricultural sector.

“A drone goes for about $6,000 (sh20m) and could be more effective than hand pumps when it comes to dealing with pests affecting oranges,” he said.

However, initiatives outside the Government are moving faster than the Government to work with drone technology in agriculture. Opolot cited Equator — a seed company — that has been spraying using drones in the production of seeds.

Opolot pointed out that a Chinese company investing in seed technology in Uganda will set up a demonstration using drone technology at Kikyusa in Luwero district.

He said the International Potato Centre (CIP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) are in advanced stages of making trials on spraying potatoes with the technology in the districts that constitute the former Kigezi region in southwestern Uganda.

Read more at New Vision

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