Productivity could be enhanced thanks to a new innovation seeking to equip farmers with timely and accurate data on climate change and land topography.
The new digital data monitoring system is a smart Swiss innovation designed to detect changes in land topography and climate variations using satellite technology.
It also collects and analyses data on climate change and land topography before farmers can make the decision on which type of crop to plant and where.
According to Francesco Holecz, the Chief executive officer of Sarmap, a Swiss based company, the technology is designed to boost natural resources management and increase farmers’ productivity.
It also gives confidence to insurance companies and credit institutions wishing to invest in agriculture, thus increasing credit to farmers, he added.
The system transforms satellite data into digital information which organisations and individuals can use to assess the risks associated with land and environmental degradation, Holecz, said.
Steve Shema, the Chief executive officer, Exuus company Ltd, said the technology will enable farmers and agronomists to respond effectively to effects of climate change.
Rwanda has been relying on traditional ways of obtaining data related to variation in land caused by climate change.
Shema, said the technology is already being used under RIICE project: Remote Sensing based Information and Insurance for Crop in Emerging Economies
This project is being implemented in the following countries:Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and India.
The system has been operation for over 5 years now
According to Innocent Nzeyimana, the chairman of the national Irrigation and mechanization task force at Rwanda Agricultural Board, the technology, will help agronomists make timely decisions basing on the acquired data.
Alexis Nizeyimana, the environmental information systems officer at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) noted that with the satellite imaging, they will be able to collect and manage information from all parts of the country.
“Managing the environment is a challenge in itself because we have inaccessible areas. However, with this kind of technology, we shall be able to monitor all activities taking place in all parts of the country,” Nizeyimana, noted
Though the government targets 8.5 per cent growth rate for the agriculture sector by 2018, banks have been reluctant to finance farmers on grounds of high unpredictable risks in the sector.
For example, the sector has been receiving a mere 4 per cent of the total loan portfolio from commercial banks over the past many years.
According to the sectoral loan disbursement for 2015, only 1.9 per cent of total loan portfolio went to agriculture, a marginal increase from 1.3 per cent in 2014.
The loan rejection rate was at 49 per cent in 2015, according to central bank statistics. In 2014, 58 per cent of the agriculture loan applications were rejected. The agriculture sector employs over 72 per cent of the Rwandan population, therefore, easing farmers’ access to affordable finance is essential to support agriculture modernisation initiatives, as well as enhance the sector’s productivity.