Precision agriculture is a promising set of technologies that is data intensive, but which has limited adoption by small holder farms in Sub-Saharan Africa. Concurrently, current trends in sustainability, traceability, and compliance reporting demand that an ever-increasing amount of data be gathered as part of everyday operations in modern production agriculture.
The use of farm management information systems (FMIS) for decision support has shown great promise for improving farm yields and profitability. However, growers are often unsure of the value of the data that they are providing and/or receiving. How does this data help them make the right decisions to improve their yield and profitability? How do growers and service providers work together to simplify the design and use of farm data? How can smallholder farmers take advantage of data in a mutually valuable relationship with data providers?
Data becomes significant if it can be linked to information, knowledge and wisdom. Once processed it can be used to generate detailed insights into farm operations and the environment. It assists big and small holder farmers in making data-based operational decisions to optimize yield and boost revenue while minimizing expenses, the chances of crop failure, and environmental impact.
For data driven agriculture to happen we have to distinguish the data streams in the food chain from pre-planting to consumption, for example: data collected and managed from the farm by farmers which can be either static or dynamic; data coming from external sources like market prices and data that is exported for aggregation by other farm service providers. However, farmers may not be in a position to realize those streams and possibly what data and information is required to answer the food chain questions, for example: What produce can I grow where I live? When should I sow/plant/harvest/market it? How should I sow/plant/harvest/market it? All these questions can be answered if the factual data or information is used or made available to the farmers.