Cecilia Onyango, a plant physiologist at the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi, is now in Sweden for a research exchange focusing on precision farming.
Cecilia Onyango is visiting the Department of Soil and Environment at SLU as a guest researcher and works in an important part of the AgriFoSe2030 project called "Application of precision agriculture concepts in small-holder farming settings".
Evaluating precision agriculture concepts
Crop production and postharvest handling with a focus on production environment and food safety; conservation of biodiversity; eco-efficient bio-resource management; stress physiology and temperature-based modulation of plant growth and development; and evaluation, selection and adoption of participatory end-user technologies. These are the areas of expertise of Cecilia Onyango.
– During the first week of the visit I participated in a training course; “Theory of change and systematic review”. This was followed by four weeks starting a systematic review process on “Precision agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa”. I have finalized a search of information on studies in Africa that have applied and evaluated precision agriculture concepts and now I’m continuing with the screening process, says Cecilia.
Sustainable food systems and self-sufficiency
Cecilia's work will result in the production of a systematic map and provide information for writing a full systematic review. In addition, Cecilia will also participate in the large agricultural fair for professional farmers at Borgeby in June.
– I expect that the program will result in options for sustainable food systems that enable food and nutrient security and self-sufficiency in Africa under changing socioeconomic and climatic conditions, demographic growth, and urbanization, says Cecilia.
Food and nutrition security - a major challenge
Food and nutrition security is a major challenge to most sub-Saharan Africa countries. Small-scale farmers produce 80% of the food consumed in these countries. Most of these farmers struggle with little access to production inputs and when used, the application of seeds and fertilizer is often imprecise.
– Precision agriculture has emerged as an approach to better apply inputs at the right place and rate in the field. This can therefore reduce the amounts used and reduce losses, and at the same time increase yields. This will lead to food & nutrition security, and increased incomes for the small-scale farmers leading to better livelihoods, says Cecilia.
– I am passionate about increasing crop productivity for small-scale farmers in a sustainable manner. I look forward to the day that all small-scale farmers will be food secure and the production systems will be efficient but environmentally friendly, concludes Cecilia.
Interview by Anneli Sundin, AgriFoSe2030 Communication and Engagement.