Drone technology as part of food security initiatives

A series of tests, involving the use of drones as smart technologies in agriculture in Mauritius, was carried out yesterday at Medine Sugar Estate. An Estonian team led by Mr Dario Matson, from REACH U, a drone technology service provider carried out a drone technology demonstration on sugarcane fields adjoining the Medine Sugar Estate premises.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, and current chair of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo; the CEO of Medine Group, Mr Thierry Sauzier; and the CEO of the Sugar Insurance Fund Board (SIFB), Mr Rajen Juggernath, as well as other personalities were present.

SIFB is currently implementing a proof of concept regarding the use of drone technology to survey cane fields for monitoring purposes. The team of Estonian drone pilots and analysts currently in Mauritius is conducting a first series of tests in different parts of the island. The project is being implemented under the Mauritius-Estonia cooperation framework in the wake of the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding on Digital Cooperation in November 2017. The use of drone technology in agriculture will also be used by the IOC as part of its food security initiatives in the region.

Agricultural drones use a special sensor to capture vast amounts of data, allowing farmers to detect weeds and diseased crops, gauge post-disaster damage, and estimate how much fertiliser they need to use.

During a press conference which preceded the drone technology demo, Mr Lutchmeenaraidoo recalled that Estonia has emerged, within only a few years, as a global digital powerhouse and is the most advanced digital society in the world. Estonia remains an ideal partner and considers Mauritius as a leading country in the region, therefore both countries can work together to disseminate technology across the African continent and the Indian Ocean region, he said.

As current chair of the IOC, Mauritius is seriously involved with the development of Africa and has taken the commitment to participate in the development of certain African countries by investing and transferring technology, the Minister pointed out. We also want to prove that Africans can stand their own and this requires South-South cooperation, he said.

Mauritius is involved in initiatives which include the creation of special economic zones in Madagascar, Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, and Zambia. These are enormous projects which necessitates substantial amounts of investments and Mauritius is willing to lend assistance by way of funding but also by way of technology transfer, the Minister added.

For Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo, Mauritius is an Ocean State which can aspire to connect to Australia, Africa and Asia and also be a key development stakeholder.

We cannot afford to lose time and have to stand up to the challenge and prove that Mauritius is an important player in the region and on the continent with regard to the African digital programme, he said.

Source: Government of Mauritius