High technology entices next generation of farmers

KUALA LUMPUR: Gone are the days when farmers were drenched in sweat under the hot sun.

Now, drones and robotics are going to help create high tech farms and a new generation of farmers in line with the fourth industrial revolution.

With technology making its way into farms to reduce the utilisation of manpower and motorised equipment, along with the use of computer screens and gadgets, farming will become more appealing for the tech-savvy younger generation to take up agropreneurship.

There are already plans afoot to create high tech farming communities in the country with Felcra young talents taking the lead by learning to use the drone technology with the help of Mata Aerotech Sdn Bhd that has rolled out a three-month Aviator Training Programme (ATP) for them.

In fact, Mata Aerotech chief executive Wan Azrain Adnan (pix), in a recent interview with Bernama, said they have senior drone pilots from Taiwan as trainers for the programme.

“The training began in November, conducted in classrooms and on-the-job practical training at Kolej Felcra, Seberang Perak.

“The trainees will learn both the hardware and software components of the drone technology. Accommodation and allowances are also being provided for them,” he said.

Wan Azrain also pointed out that the adoption of the latest technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), opens wide employment opportunities for children of Felcra settlers and farmers from conventional to modern farming that would reduce labour requirements.

“Coupled with high technology devices, AI would also be able to provide precision agriculture and assist better results in controlling farming environments. By using AI and drones, we can improve through a scientific and technological approach over traditional and conventional practices. It will result in improved yields, cost savings and labour requirements.

“Precision agriculture is based on three simple principles – survey, analysis and application – which empower the farmers in managing their estates more efficiently and effectively.

“Padi cultivation using drone technology will replace manual spraying by workers…and this would enable manpower to be deployed in other productive activities,” he explained.

On July 22, Mata Aerotech, a company under SWS Capital Berhad, inked a memorandum of understanding with Felcra for drone technology to be used for plantation operations, research and development as well as human capital development in drone and robotic technology industry.

The use of the drone was in partnership with Geosat Aerospace and Technology Inc (Geosat) based in Taiwan that has been specialising in drones for more than a decade.

Wan Azrain further said survey and data collection on agricultural land could be easily executed by using the Pterosaur drone that the company designed and the analysis of the collected data could be achieved through AI by capturing photo images of plants.

“Additionally, the use of Alpas II, which is an unmanned helicopter application for spraying pesticides, fertilisers and seeding, will only take 11 minutes to complete spraying of a hectare of padi field,” he added.

Meanwhile, Geosat chairman and chief executive officer Dr Max Lo said the technology used was based on the agricultural practices of Taiwan.

“We bring with us more than 10 years of effort and improvement in drone technology and more than 16 years of remote sensing experience to achieve optimal yield and optimised costs,” he explained. — Bernama