Tunisian Farmers Embrace Drones to Navigate Climate Challenges

Sun Dec 03 2023
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TUNIS, Tunisia: In response to the adverse effects of climate change, Tunisian farmers are increasingly turning to modern technology to mitigate the impact on their crops. RoboCare, a startup in Tunisia, is leading the way by employing drones equipped with advanced cameras and sensors to assess orchards’ hydration levels, soil quality, and overall health. The initiative aims to provide farmers with valuable insights that can help them adapt to changing climate conditions and optimize resource usage. As North African countries face heightened water stress, incorporating such innovative solutions becomes imperative.

Climate change has brought about unpredictable weather patterns, with drought and irregular rainfall affecting traditional farming practices. Farmers in Tunisia are grappling with the challenges posed by these climate shifts, making it essential to explore alternative approaches. RoboCare’s founder, Imen Hbiri, emphasizes the inevitability of incorporating modern technologies into agriculture to ensure sustainable practices.

Tunisia, along with other North African nations, is classified among the world’s 33 most water-stressed countries by the World Resources Institute. The region’s vulnerability to water scarcity makes it crucial for farmers to adopt efficient and precise methods to manage their resources effectively.

RoboCare’s drone technology offers a solution to the evolving needs of agriculture in the face of climate change. By scanning orchards from the air, the drones provide farmers with crucial information about each plant’s water requirements. This data allows for precise and targeted resource allocation, minimizing water consumption and reducing costs associated with fertilizers and other remedies.

Imen Hbiri, the founder of RoboCare, emphasizes the potential of their technology to enhance agricultural practices. By leveraging this drone-based approach, farmers can reportedly achieve up to a 30% reduction in water consumption and a 20% decrease in the costs of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs. Additionally, the technology aims to increase crop production by around 30%, offering a promising prospect for sustainable and efficient farming.

One of the key advantages of this technology is its ability to detect signs of illness or malnourishment in plants before these issues become visible to the naked eye. The use of RGB imagery allows farmers to assess the health of their crops efficiently, with greener plants indicating better overall conditions. Subsequently, targeted interventions, such as using medicine-filled sprinklers mounted on the drones, can be employed to address specific issues, providing a more cost-effective and precise approach to crop management.

However, despite the potential benefits, widespread adoption of drone technology in agriculture faces challenges in the form of regulatory hurdles and awareness gaps. Currently, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia prohibit the use of unmanned drones without a permit. Acquiring these permits, especially for commercial purposes, can be a time-consuming process, potentially slowing down the integration of such technologies into mainstream farming practices.

Imen Hbiri calls for changes in legislation and increased awareness to facilitate the broader adoption of drone technology in agriculture. She believes that only around 10% of Tunisian farmers currently rely on such technology, indicating significant room for growth. Streamlining administrative processes and promoting the benefits of these innovations could contribute to a more rapid and widespread implementation.

As climate change continues to impact traditional farming practices, embracing innovative solutions becomes imperative for the agricultural sector’s sustainability. The use of drones, as demonstrated by RoboCare in Tunisia, showcases the potential to revolutionize how farmers approach crop management. By leveraging technology to gain real-time insights and optimize resource usage, Tunisian farmers can enhance their resilience in the face of evolving climate challenges.

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