Cellphone farmer, of a good kind: TelOne picks EOS Data for new tech platform to monitor crops

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By Tonderai Maruke

The “cellphone farmer” is a term that has been used to describe detached farmers who choose not to get their fingers dirty. But a shift towards the use of technology in agriculture could give the term a new and less insulting meaning.

TelOne, the state-owned telecoms company, has picked EOS Data Analytics (EOSDA), a global provider of AI-powered satellite imagery analytics, to provide a platform that allows farmers monitor their fields using satellite technology.  

The local telco’s new platform, TelOne Crop Monitoring, will allow farmers to subscribe to the service and map their field by inputting coordinates, the company says. 

“Thereafter, the platform will start analysing the farm’s conditions, producing data on variables like field monitoring, weather data, crop classification and yield prediction to be used in decision making” says TelOne MD Chipo Mtasa. 

Zimbabwean farmers are hoping to use technology to better monitor the impact of climate change on their crops.

“Humanity’s going through rapid changes that require us to make quick digital transformations. Since Africa is set to become a global hub for agritech, new developments in the African agricultural sector and in Zimbabwe specifically can bring multiple benefits to the industry’s stakeholders and uplift the smallholder farmer communities. That’s why we’re so excited about this strategic partnership with TelOne,” says Brijesh Thoppil, Director of Strategic Partnerships at EOS Data Analytics.

Under the arrangement with EOSDA, TelOne will get a professional-level subscription to the EOSDA Crop Monitoring, an online satellite-based platform for field monitoring.

Says Melody Harry, TelOne’s Head of Corporate Communication: “TelOne remains committed to coming up with digital solutions that seek to facilitate a digitally enabled society by 2023. With agriculture being a major contributor to the nation’s GDP, it is imperative that we come up with solutions for this key sector. By partnering with EOSDA, we bring a tried and tested state-of-the-art crop monitoring and remote sensing solution that will go a long way in assisting the nation to reach food sustenance.”

Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change, with erratic rainfall patterns, disease and lack of capital restricting crop yields. Government plans to launch a Smart Agriculture blueprint in November.