About a fortnight ago, I was a panel speaker at a high level highly interactive forum at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra on “Envisioning a Spatially Enabled Ghana”. During the panel discussion on “Towards Geo-enabled Agriculture”, I made a presentation on the services offered by Syecomp Business Services Ltd in the area of Geospatial Survey and Mapping services for smallholder and commercial farmers, and also for local and international agricultural development projects in Ghana. This article is to share with you a brief overview of what we mean by geo-enabled agriculture in the wider context of deploying spatial technologies in agriculture.
Ghana is blessed with abundant natural resources and agriculture is one of the mainstays of the Ghanaian economy. The agriculture sector in Ghana accounts for nearly one-quarter of the country’s GDP and provides employment to more than half of the country’s workforce. With the ever increasing population and the growing demand for food products, the need of the hour is to deploy modern technologies in the field of agriculture to make sure that crop production can be significantly increased without putting too much pressure on the limited available resources. The deployment of geo-enabled technologies in Agriculture which include Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing is a unique game-changer to addressing the numerous constraints farmers face with regards climate variability, low crop yields and lack of precision knowledge in farming. To explain the technologies further:
GPS provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth.
Remote Sensing facilitates the acquisition of information without physical contact: Example; meteorological data, chemical concentrations in the atmosphere, soil water, soil minerals, land cover, land use, plant and crop health, etc.
GIS is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present all types of geographical data: where things are, quantities and densities and finds what’s inside and what’s nearby.
With regards Precision Agriculture, it is a farm management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra field variability in crops. Precision farming effectively aims at matching farm practices closely to crop need, protecting and limiting environmental risk and boosting competitiveness through efficient practices. To this end geospatial technologies involves capturing farm data and undertaking a characterization of variability for effective decision-making and implementation practices at the farm level.
Further, other benefits of deploying geospatial technologies include determining the location of agri-businesses including tractor, storage, aggregation points, et al being guided by a reliable geo-database. In addition, it is very essential for private enterprises venturing into rain-fed large scale commercial grain farming in Ghana to effectively make use of geospatial information otherwise it will be suicidal for them.
The benefits from geospatial technology use in agriculture are quite numerous and a lot is still under research. Let us explore the innovative uses and increase the yields from our farms.
PS: Special thanks to co-panelists: Dr. Nanam Dziedzoave (CSIR), Nana Oforiwaa Koranteng (CIDA Ghana) and Mr. Foster Mensah (CERSGIS) for excellent presentations for reference.
Solomon Elorm Allavi
GIS Specialist, Syecomp Ltd, Accra
Phone: +233 20 144 2191