Recently I visited a farming community in Lokoja Nigeria, many farmers troop in from various parts of Nigeria to plant rice, melon, or beni seed, I observed the major challenge that rice farmers face are birds! Birds can invade an entire rice field and suck up all the tender stalks, the farmers set up daily watches chasing birds, and it’s such a hassle. I heard of a farmer who after trying all he could to chase the birds gave up on the field and let the birds have their fill.
Farmers lose an estimated average of 37% of their rice crop to pests and diseases every year. Rice crops are vulnerable to bird attacks at early crop establishment stages (mostly by water birds) and highly susceptible from the milky stage up to maturation (by land birds).
This challenge can be effectively dealt with by planting pest resistant varieties, many varieties have been developed with resistance to different pest and diseases, in addition to good crop management, timely and accurate diagnosis can significantly reduce losses. The Use of short-duration and resistant cultivars decrease insect pest populations. In short-duration cultivars, insects cannot compete as many generations, so populations may not reach damaging levels. Resistant varieties experience less feeding damage on their leaves and stems, which means less entry points for bacterial and fungal diseases.
But such knowledge and information are not readily available to local farmers, when asked why they did not grow pest resistant varieties, they resounding answer was the same, such seeds are not readily within their reach and in cases where it eventually gets to them the price is hiked by agents and middlemen. A paradigm shift would be creating a sustainable link between farmers and the necessary inputs providers and information they need for increase yield.
And that is the approach we have taken at Kitovu Technology Company. We are building the necessary support infrastructure that would enable farmers optimize their yields and reduce losses. Getting timely information on good agriculture practice, as well as access to the best inputs can be the difference between success or failure and that is one advantage our farmers enjoy. In addition, our Plant Health Analysis technology enables us to offer plant protection advice and gauge the performance of crops, ensuring that crops are growing optimally.
Imagine a world where agriculture is derisked, yield is optimal, and markets and knowledge are seamlessly interwoven between the different stakeholders? Imagine the reduction in post harvest losses because farmers have adequate data to know what to grow and how to grow it? Imagine a world where there is no extreme hunger and poverty? That is the world that we envision; that is the future we are building. It is still early days, but the journey to transform African agriculture has begun!