Femi Adekoya is the Team Lead, Integrated Aerial Precision that empowers farmers with drone-powered solutions. He spoke on various issues bordering on how smart agriculture can help farmers without being exposed to pesticides, how drone-powered agriculture can help farmers, challenges being faced in this area of agriculture, what government can do to help them, and offered advice to farmers on the recent technology. Excerpts:
Can we meet you
My name is Femi Adekoya, the Team Lead of Integrated Aerial Precision. People call me the ‘flying farmer’ because of the field that I choose in agriculture.
Tell us about your company
The name of our company is Integrated Aerial Precision; the first of its kind in the agricultural industry and focuses on drone service and analytic provider in Nigeria and parts of West Africa. What we do basically is to provide intelligent, aerial intelligent and hindsight that empower farmers to do precision agriculture, smart agriculture, leveraging on drone technology and the power of energy generation. Our service, we call them drone power solution from precision drone spraying to digital farm passport such as aerial survey; things that we can actually generate with data inside for that is why we call it data farm passport. We also do targeting broadcasting using drone, we also do agricultural assets inspection with drone technology and lots more of our solutions precision, which is centered around using drone to solve problems in agriculture.
How can your organisation’s aims and objectives be actualised
We have different solutions. Let’s take one as a particular example. In discretion drone training, our farmers are exposed to the hazards arising from the use of agro-chemicals, but these substances are very important for use in agricultural production. So, how do we tackle this problem that it will not affect the farmer’s health being exposed to these pesticides while we try to protect pest and diseases? 25 percent to 40 percent of our farm yield is lost to pest and diseases, but we are using our drone to help farmers fight pests and diseases while they are at their homes or at the edge of the field and are not exposed to these pesticides. We are bringing out the benefits of smart agriculture and precision agriculture. Farmers will be able to digitise their farms by knowing the inventory of their crops, farm population, field health and even beyond these, before a symptom comes up, they would be able to know which area is diseased or lacking nutrients. We also provide farmers with area intelligence and hindsight.
Are there challenges that you are facing
Yes, there is no business without challenges. We face challenges such as enlightening farmers because it’s a new enterprise. We are driving the demand for our services.
In what way do you think government can intervene
One of the challenges is in relation to regulations. Government needs to make the use of drones in agriculture easier for people to adopt. We want to actually serve more farmers and we want the support of the government in policy making in terms of inclusive regulations that allow us to explore the opportunities that drone technology bring to our people. Other ones are funding opportunities, we are running a capital intensive technology and we need the support of the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for instance, in making commercial banks to avail us some level of investment. If we are serious with bolstering our food security, there should be funding premised on “Put your money where your mouth is”. Government can also encourage the creation of awareness on this technology to small grower farmers, industrial farmers and everybody needing this technology. The good thing about drone is that it brings scale to agriculture and we need scale because we need to produce more food to meet the food demands of our growing population.
Any message you wish to share with farmers, particularly, local farmers that are not familiar with this kind of technology
I would say to farmers; this is 21st century technology. Be open to come and see the benefits of our technology and others to boost agricultural production.