AU and Econet in trial phase of ground-breaking technology

Cows are in abundance on the African continent however realizing the potential wealth that these precious and valued livestock hold is still a reality that many farmers on the continent fail to realize. In some sub-Saharan African countries, cows produce below 200 liters of milk per year, compared to over 12,500 liters per cow in some developed countries. A common thread that unites the story of low agricultural output and productivity on the continent is not only that of a lack of access to capital and value addition but also lack of investment in technology that will facilitate the increase of yields. Africa University is looking to bridge this gap.

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Through the i5 Hub, Africa University and Econet are positioned to transform the dairy industry in Zimbabwe through the development of a smart collar that will detect Estrus in dairy cattle. Estrus is a period in which peaks of fertility and capabilities of conceiving are realized in female mammals.

Traditionally, this process is monitored using one or a combination of the following methods- visual observation, chin ball markers, Kramer estrus Mount Detectors, teaser animals, progesterone and through reviewing videotape footage of cattle behavior and various computerized devices. The collar has been designed to help improve efficiency in large scale farming as it monitors vital signs in animal behavior.

Telecommunications giant Econet Wireless is the perfect partner for the project as the collar will transmit data to the Econet database which will be accessed by Africa University users across physical devices through web applications.

Through the partnership, Econet Wireless will be offering systems support with AU being the custodians of all access rights and to full system functionality. The collar is entering its first test phase with the AU herd of dairy cattle being the test herd from which the technology is set to grow.

Detecting estrus and successful impregnation of a cow are the single most important factors to consider on a dairy farm. The accurate and efficient detection of estrus in dairy cattle is an important and essential component of a good reproductive management program for dairy farmers and failure to detect estrus or errors in estrus detection are the two primary causes of poor reproductive performance and low reproductive efficiency.

The market for wearable technology for animals is expected to grow from around $1 billion currently to $2.5 billion by 2025. The trend is part of the larger movement toward precision agriculture, where technology is woven into every aspect of a farmer's life from the monitoring of vital signs to the tracking of stray animals from the herd.

Jeanette Dadzie, Africa University website

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.