Farmers use drones, AI to take security into their own hands

As the provincial government scrambles to set up structures to improve rural safety, farmers are looking to technology to boost security in the face of recent farm attacks and related agricultural crime.

Drakenstein Farm Watch (DFW) chief executive Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp said on Sunday that drones – which use a combination of technologies including computer vision, artificial intelligence and object avoidance tech – are among the resources they are already using to keep an eye on farms in and around Paarl.

“We also have powerful radio networks. While everyone has a mobile phone these days, we have found that radio is most useful when urgent communication is needed, as all the user has to do is switch on the mic and speak, whereas with the phone you may have to look for the app and open it before getting anything done,” Boomkamp said.

DFW work closely with Fidelity ADT, who earlier this year entered a partnership with agricultural industry association Agri SA.

ADT will be providing integrated systems – from intrusion systems, to radio frequency identification tagging, CCTV, fire solutions, access control, monitoring services, control room facilities and guarding, which can be integrated to provide a complete and tailored managed risk solution.

DaanvanLeeuwenBoomkampwithacolleaguefromtheDrakensteinFarmWatch - Farmers use drones, AI to take security into their own handsDrakenstein Farm Watch (DFW) chief executive Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp. Picture: Supplied

Agri SA’s centre of excellence: rural safety chairperson Tommie Esterhuyse: “Ultimately we believe that the partnership will go a long way in providing a safe and secure rural environment to support food security, social and economic development and to respond to the safety and security needs of rural communities, which are also the aim of the rural safety strategy as developed by the police with the assistance with Agri SA.

“Farm safety is much bigger than a single organisation, a community or even structures of authority.

“The reality is that violent crime in our rural farming areas shocks not only the community, but also has a negative impact on food production, national stability and the economy of the country.”According to Agri SA deputy executive director Christo van der Rheede: “All projects that are supported must operate within the legal framework.”

Meanwhile, Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said last week: “A meeting will soon be set up with Rodney de Kock, Western Cape head of the NPA to prioritise serious cases of criminality” and he also assured rural communities that “the next couple of weeks will also see the setting up of the rural safety priority inter-ministerial committee”.

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