Agricultural drones introduced for the first time in vegetable sector

2022-12-20 15:14:41

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Japanese Government are jointly supporting precision agriculture in Mongolia through the introduction of agricultural drones.

On December 20, the “Supplying of agricultural drones in Darkhan-Uul, Selenge and Central aimags” project has been signed by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia H. Kobayashi and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mongolia’s Farmers’ Association for Rural Development (MFARD) G.Davaadorj. The signing ceremony was attended by Vinod Ahuja, FAO Representative in Mongolia and T.Jambaltseren, State Secretary of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industries (MOFALI). On the occasion, Mr. Ahuja expressed his delight on the initiation of this project and said “Drones have a huge potential in agriculture in supporting evidence-based planning and in spatial data collection. I thank the Government of Japan in supporting this project and hope this collaboration will further strengthen policies and decisions in support of Mongolia’s food security and sustainable agriculture.”

Four sets of drones from Ishikawa Energy Research LLC are supplied by the Japanese Government’s Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects. FAO will train the human resources with the capacities to pilot drones and interpret data by bringing in international experts. As a UN technical agency, FAO has extensive expertise in development of precision agriculture worldwide. The MOFALI is the policy coordinator of the introduction of this technological solution in the agriculture sector. MFARD boasts a membership of 2000 vegetable producers, which will be potential beneficiaries of the project.

FAO estimates that annually between 20 to 40 percent of global crop production are lost to pests. In Mongolia, 2.6-10.7% of cereal production, 13-30% of potato and vegetable production, and 19-40% of rangeland production are lost to pests, which is a serious burden for the country that is still heavily dependent on imports for meeting national demand.

The most common practice for application of plant protection products is characterized by universal spraying of fields with little regard given to whether the whole area or just a patch of land is actually affected by pests. Irrational or excessive use of plant protection products seriously undermines the prospective of entire cropping system, detrimental to both farmers’ income and environmental health.

Pest surveillance and crop monitoring are extremely labor intensive and time consuming operations without the use of innovative technologies. The use of drone is key to more timely and more accurate identification of pest-affected areas. It facilitates immediate spot treatment and avoids unnecessary use of plant protection products. The major consequences of minimal, yet reasonable use of chemicals would include reduced operational and input costs and averted growth retardation of all crops on the field by the effects of plant protection products, both translating into income for producers and reduced impact on the environment. It will also enable farmers to take preventive, non-toxic measures against pests.

Therefore, the project to supply drones is crucial in developing precision agriculture in 3,500 hectares land of selected soums in Darkhan-Uul, Selenge and Tuv aimags to improve production, soil and pests management, including rapid response capacity to pest emergencies through intensive monitoring of crops and pest surveillance with the help of drone technology.