Agritech Expo interviewed Edwin Makuya, Business Manager of SGS Agriculture and Food, Zambia, the returning bronze sponsor of the show that is taking place in Chisamba on 27 - 29 April
Any exciting new products or projects that are in the offing for this year?
SGS is the leading provider of precision farming services in Zambia. At SGS we are always innovating, and at least one step ahead of our competitors, and this year we are excited to launch two innovative farming services – our new Gateway service, and Nutrient Index map.
The Gateway service is an app that once downloaded to your smart phone enables the user to open all their physical and chemical maps on the device. It also has a “my location” function, which allows the user to walk into the fields and access all the nutrient levels and/or soil data specific to the exact spot on which they are standing.
The Nutrient index map is a satellite NDVI map of specific fields with shows details of the different levels of chlorophyll readings in the plants. Users receive a map every 16 days during the growing period. This means different stress levels of the field can be more easily identified and investigated.
What in your view are Zambia’s agricultural sector main challenges currently? How can the farming community overcome these challenges?
There are many challenges affecting Zambia’s agricultural sector, despite the positive growth recorded in the last decade. In my view the main challenges in the sector are the high cost of inputs and lower yields per area cultivated. Both these challenges negatively affect farmers profit margins and the sector’s overall contribution to GNP. The high cost of inputs are driven mainly by market forces, meaning farming communities can only address this issue by adopting sustainable agriculture practices such as Precision Farming.
Precision Farming methods ensure proper management of soil fertility and optimal utilisation of inputs such as fertiliser, chemicals and lime. Precision soil sampling and testing leads to many benefits, such as the possibility of reduced fertiliser costs, increased yields through accurate soil/leaf fertility recommendations and increased environmental protection through the accurate application of products. Therefore, farmers can adopt precision farming methods to cut down on farming input costs such as fertiliser, chemicals and lime.