The UK Government is funding an agri-tech project to safeguard the future of beekeeping in South Africa. The sector contributes significantly to the economy and provides employment and is experiencing declining beekeepers, threatening food production due to suboptimal pollination. The project aims to use IoT technology to transform beekeeping by using sensors to collect real-time data that can inform decision-making and reduce labor requirements.
The project is being delivered by pollination management technologists AgriSound, supported by Agri-Tech Innovation Centre, Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) from the UK, and South Africa-based R&D organization, Cropimpi. The aim is to develop a low-cost technology solution and a digital training platform to support the next generation of beekeepers in South Africa. In addition, the IoT technology will collect data to improve hive management and drive broad-reaching benefits. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming fund funds the project. International Business Development Manager for CHAP, Dr. Jenna Ross OBE, stated that beekeeping contributed R16 billion to the South African economy in 2016 and provided 180,000 jobs, but beekeeper numbers are declining. IoT technology can transform agricultural production to improve welfare, crop yields, and production sustainability. The project aims to create a potentially game-changing solution for a wide diversity of beekeepers in South Africa.