Three Times More Yield for Tanzanian Farmers With Virtual Agronomist

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At iSDA, we have been seeing fantastic positive yield responses with Virtual Agronomist across a range of crops and countries, including maize in Côte D’Ivoire, barley and sorghum in Uganda, coffee in Kenya and rice in Zambia.

One of the most notable responses comes from sunflower and rice farmers in Tanzania whose crops are showing impressive yield results and offering positive predictions in growth and profit.

In 2022 we started a pilot programme in Tanzania with sunflower farmers in Singida, Iringa, Manyara and Dodoma with Pyxus International. Using Virtual Agronomist, our tailored advisory service, the Field Technicians generated specific nutrient recommendations for each farmer along with suggestions to improve agronomic practices. We demonstrated that the prospective yield and profit results with Virtual Agronomist were on average three times the farmer’s previous practice, when accompanied by good agronomic management.

By using Virtual Agronomist to monitor farmers throughout the season, we were then able to diagnose that poor crop emergence was the primary factor that was limiting potential yield for sunflower farmers. With this information, the Virtual Agronomist advisory for the subsequent seasons will provide guidelines to help farmers address these constraints and identify any additional agronomic factors they should be focusing on to be able to achieve their prospective yield.

“Virtual Agronomist has helped 90% of our farmers increase sunflower yields with an average increase of 70%. We don’t normally see sunflower heads this big!” - Sam Chutto, Sunflower Agronomist, Manyara, Tanzania

Sam Chutto demonstrating the size of improved sunflower heads with Virtual Agronomist.

Sunflower agronomist Sam Chutto demonstrating the size of improved sunflower heads with Virtual Agronomist

In addition to sunflower crops, we also demonstrated similarly impressive results with rice yields in Mbeya in 2022, where there were overall improvements of up to two times the farmer’s previous practice. During our initial investigation using iSDAsoil, we found that the baseline soil fertility levels were very low. This factor, coupled with sub-optimal agronomic practices, was holding back profitability for smallholder rice farmers.

This discovery made rice crops the ideal use case for Virtual Agronomist where it was identified that the main factor affecting the yield was the amount of fertiliser farmers were applying. Virtual Agronomist recommendations for increased and balanced fertiliser rates resulted in better yields and fantastic responses overall. This improvement in yield created a positive challenge as farmers sought extra storage space for their abundant crops.

A key aim of ours at iSDA is to build up soil fertility over time using Virtual Agronomist recommendations and improve agronomic management to achieve consistently better yield results and more profitable outcomes.

“My ways of planting rice have changed since meeting the iSDA team and following the recommendations of the Virtual Agronomist technology. I got 3.5 tonnes/acre following the recommendations compared to 2 tonnes/acre without using Virtual Agronomist.” - Christina Kussa, Rice Farmer, Tanzania

Christina Kussa's rice yield without using Virtual Agronomist.

Christina Kussa's rice yield without using Virtual Agronomist

Christina Kussa's rice yield following Virtual Agronomist recommendations.

Christina Kussa's rice yield following Virtual Agronomist recommendations

Tuntufye Mwambagi demonstrating her increase in yield.

Tuntufye Mwambagi who got three tonnes following Virtual Agronomist recommendations compared to two tonnes following her own practices last year

At iSDA, we are constantly evolving Virtual Agronomist in response to customer feedback to encourage positive consistency across crops and countries. As a result of our sunflower and rice pilots in Tanzania, we have shown that our tailored advice, monitoring and training can significantly increase yield, produce higher quality crops and improve profit margins. Our new technological advances using artificial intelligence that are currently being rolled out in Uganda and Kenya are an exciting glimpse into the future of Virtual Agronomist and the potential future of agriculture in Africa.

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