Drone Solutions to fight Fall Armyworm in Papua New Guinea
May 17th, 2022
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE — Dimitra Incorporated, a global Agtech company on a mission to make its technology available to smallholder farmers globally, is excited to be working with Rumion Limited (a Kenmore Group company) a pig farming, feed crops, and cattle grazing enterprise based in Markham, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Rumion and Dimitra have signed an agreement to deliver drone precision spraying, spreading, and mapping services to fight the invasive Fall Armyworm (FAW). The FAW has had a significant impact on the Maize crop in PNG, Asia, and Northern Australia.
Dimitra is working with Rumion in collaboration with the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus Program (PHAMA Plus) with funding from the Australian Government and New Zealand Government and assisted by GrowPNG (part of the Regional Grow Asia Network) to build a solution to suppress the FAW in PNG and look at the efficacy of Drone spraying in maize/corn that could be taken across the region. The program will be managed under the FAW Monitoring and Management Response in PNG Project.
Located in the Markham Valley, Morobe Province, Rumion Limited is PNG’s largest producer of pigs with around 12,000 heads and is the major supplier to an associated company, ‘Prima Smallgoods.’ In addition to pig production, Rumion grows corn (maize) exclusively for stock feed manufacture in their feed mill plant for their pigs and has a 5,000 head beef herd operation.
The initial engagement will run photographic mapping and NDVI and RTK processing across the Rumion properties. This will provide a detailed reference tool loaded to the Dimitra platform. In conjunction with data collected from the current corn/maize growing season and FAW infestation patterns. An optimal spraying sequence would be devised leveraging 3 x 30L agricultural-specific drones, purchased by Rumion and operated by Dimitra.
“Partnering with Dimitra will enable the first use of agricultural specific drones in fighting the FAW infestation in PNG. with the aim to reduce human exposure to chemicals and increase application efficiency. In addition, we are looking forward to working with Dimitra to set up best practice for our operations to allow us to take advantage of precision agriculture across not only our cropping, but also our cattle operations as well,” said David Duran, General Manager, Rumion Limited,
Through assessing efficacy in a large enterprise, Dimitra will then work with Grow PNG and PHAMA Plus to evaluate a cost-effective community-based model to provide drones as a Service (DaaS) approaches to smallholder farmers in the surrounding farms. The project will look at the hypothesis that a coordinated precision spraying program across large and smallholder farmers could increase the impact on FAW numbers while decreasing pesticide use.
“Grow PNG is excited to collaborate with Rumion, PHAMA Plus, Dimitra, and with the support of the Australian and New Zealand governments to look at the feasibility of a community-based drone services model. The aim is for this engagement with precision agricultural technology to provide a lower cost of application, higher yield of crops, new technology job opportunities, and providing PNG’s smallholder farmers much-needed access to new technologies,” said John Simango, Executive Director, Grow PNG.
All data will be collected by the Dimitra ‘Connected Farmer’ application and dashboard, and vital information will be added to the Dimitra blockchain to provide immutable records of spray application events for the traceability of Rumion corn fed to their pigs in the piggery, and ultimately into the small goods produced and sold to the end consumers.
Dimitra’s Regional Director, Ben Wark, said, “The engagement with Rumion Limited is an exciting opportunity to prove the effectiveness of the Dimitra platform and Drone technology in the very important fight against FAW in PNG. In collaboration with Grow PNG, PHAMA Plus and regional government agencies, the learnings from this engagement will open opportunities for large and smallholders across the Markham Valley and the whole of PNG!”
Rumion Limited is PNG’s largest producer of pigs with around 12,000 head and is the major supplier to an associated company, ‘Prima Smallgoods’. In addition to pig production, Rumion grows corn (maize) exclusively for stock feed manufactured in their own feed mill plant for the pigs and has a 5,000 head beef herd operation.
Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) share a special relationship, strong bonds and ambitions for the future. We are working together to implement the Papua New Guinea-Australia Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership.
GrowPNG’s vision is to accelerate the growth of the agriculture sector in the Markham Valley by enabling smallholder farmers to increase their income by 20% within eight years. GrowPNG is part of the Grow Asia network, a multi-stakeholder platform that builds field, national, and regional-level partnerships to broker market-driven solutions that cultivate inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems in Southeast Asia.
The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program or PHAMA Plus provides practical and targeted assistance to help Pacific Island countries manage regulatory aspects associated with exporting primary and value-added products. This encompasses gaining access for products into new markets, and helping to manage issues associated with maintaining and improving existing trade.