Tuesday 10 December, 2019

Drones to be acquired to combat praedial larceny – Hutchinson

JC Hutchinson (PHOTO: JIS)

JC Hutchinson (PHOTO: JIS)

The Government is pushing to acquire at least 13 additional drones by the end of the fiscal year for use in the agricultural sector to, among other things, combat praedial larceny.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday by Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agricultural and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

Currently there is one drone that was recently acquired and which is in the possession of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). Hutchinson noted that it has so far been of tremendous help to farmers. He said the next step is to ensure that there is one drone for each parish.

“Technology must play a pivotal role in the development of the agricultural sector," said Hutchinson while describing the drone being used by RADA as “a versatile piece of equipment.”

“We are hoping to get one drone for each parish by the end of the fiscal year,” he added.

The Minister noted that the drone is capable of identifying crop damage, deficiencies in plants, deficiency of water in the soil, plant diseases and a range of other problems affecting the sector. In the case of papaya, Hutchinson noted that sometimes the farmer on the ground is unable to detect disease in the trees.

“So once you have the drone and it flies over it is able to detect the trees with the disease...”said the Minister, while pointing out that in the event of a natural disaster, even areas that are inaccessible to relief personnel will be reached by drone.

“And it will also help in curtailing praedial larceny,” Hutchinson said. .  

He also posited that “these drones will be effective in providing more accurate reports for data gathering.”

He described current data on the agricultural sector as ‘guesstimates’ rather than estimates.

With the drones and the so called agricultural aides, some 1,000 of whom will be deployed alongside RADA officers as part of the HOPE programme, Hutchinson was confident that “we will be able to get a more accurate report on all crop cultivation.”

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