In the North African country of Tunisia, drones are now being used by farmers. And although this is new in Africa, elsewhere, drones have entered almost every phase of farming.
They are being used for soil and field analyses, and to most phases before harvest.
Farmers are using the drone-generated analyses to plan better seed-planting patterns.
Unmanned aircraft are doing their chores faster than traditional equipment did, and cost less money as well.
One of such drones is known as Quantix, which was developed for on-farm reliability and features a durable, lightweight airframe with a one-meter wingspan and carbon fiber spar reinforcement.
Quantix can scout 400 acres of land in 45 minutes. It is armed with an AV DSS Software for Precision AG, RGB & NDVI Images and a fully automated flight operation.
Its vertical takeoff and landing provides for the safest flight operations, while protecting valuable on-board cameras.
It is these advantages that farmers in Tunisia are trying to benefit from.
Already, eight pilots have successfully passed their drone flight training there.
The two-week intensive training period was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of Tunisia, the African Development Bank and Busan Techno Park.
The training, which focused on handling, maintenance and the security aspects of flying drones, took place in Tunis from 19-30 November 2018.
The eight pilots were the first batch of 40 candidates selected for the exercise. A total of 400 young Tunisians would be trained between now and 2021.
The project will also see the setting up of a training center equipped with training drones as well as computer simulation tools for drone control.
“It is very good training. I want to share my experience. I would like to participate in this project and contribute for the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in my country Tunisia and my region, Africa,” said Lazhar Meskine, an air traffic management engineer, who was among the trainees.
After accumulating 20 hours of flight time and passing the practical flight, they obtained a “Drone Pilot Certificate” recognized by the Tunisian government. The four best trainees from this first batch will undergo further training for eight weeks to accumulate 100 hours of flight time. This will make them eligible to take the certification examination and qualify as drone pilot trainers.
The participants were highly enthusiastic about the training.
“I have also learned many things through Tunisian trainees. It gives us a great chance to understand the local situation for further projects by using drone technologies,” their instructor, Mr. Yong-ju Seo, added.
The pilot project on the use of drones for agricultural development projects in the Sidi Bouzid region, central Tunisia, is financed by a grant from the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC), under the management of the African Development Bank and Busan Techno Park.
Busan Techno Park has already tested the drones for efficacy in managing similar urban projects.
Korea is a leading country in the development and use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for real-time data collection and processing.
Drones have been used in agriculture to provide fast and accurate data, helping to improve decision-making at all stages of a project, from preparation to implementation and evaluation.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.