Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
The harrowing regimen of pain and suffering wrought by the disappearance of his father’s Brahman bull from a large farm in Chivhu motivated Farirai Masocha, a 21-year-old University of Zimbabwe undergraduate computer science student, to develop a livestock tracking app.
Animal husbandry means a lot to his father and the loss of a Brahman bull that was supposed to mate with cows on the farm was quite unsettling for Farirai.
“I developed the app after my father’s Brahman bull disappeared from our farm. The farm is huge and the worry lines on my dad’s face forced me to think deeply about the possibility of developing a livestock tracking app,’ he told the Herald at the UZ event. Research Innovation and Industrialization Week.
“The farm is huge and I had no idea where I could find the bull. I feared that the loss of the bull would trigger depression in my father. He loves his cattle. So, being a young computer science student, I thought of using what I learned from an Internet of Things course. »
The Masochas have around 110 cattle that roam freely on their farm. Cattle rustling is a major problem in the country and developing livestock tracking apps was so dear to Farirai.
It has developed a livestock monitoring and management system that can, among other things, locate the animal, prevent theft and inform the breeder about the state of health of the animal.
Additionally, the app has a veld fire detection system to help curb forest fires and livestock deaths or injuries.
“We have developed tags that contain a chip that we place on the animals’ ears or ankles. This monitors the health of the animals and the location of the animal on our farm. The chip can send signals to a base station in the communication network where all the information processing is done. A farmer and his farm workers can receive alerts via a mobile app about the exact location of the animal in the geographical location of the farm,” says the young computer science student.
“We have developed software that communicates all the components and helps track the animal on the farm and where it is if stolen. Even if it is stolen from Masvingo or Mount Darwin, we can track it.
This application, which is still only a prototype, he says, could help small and large farmers prevent cattle rustling and save them huge sums of money through disease prevention and fight against cattle theft.
“When your cattle go past the geofence of the farm, you will get a notification message on your mobile app. It can tell you where your cattle are. In addition, we have a temperature sensor chip that can determine the temperature of the animal,” says Farirai.
“If the animal is sick, the temperature can be below 37.5 degrees Celsius and also if it is above 38 degrees, then you know that the animal is sick. You get a notification message about it and a The farmer can then quickly call extension workers or animal husbandry experts for help before the animal dies.
“All of this can help save our farmers and the nation as a whole our precious livestock with the help of computer applications. January disease killed thousands of animals in most parts of the country. With such applications, it is possible to detect disease early and save our livestock asset base.
Livestock has historically been a wealth in Zimbabwe and many use cattle and donkeys for draft power and to earn a living through the sale of assets.
Cases of cattle rustling are now commonplace in Zimbabwe, with thieves hitting farmers hardest in most border areas where thieves work with cross-border syndicates to steal cattle.
On average, between 5,000 and 10,000 cases of cattle theft are reported per year in the country according to the anti-theft cell of the ZRP.
Over the years, the unit has intensified its campaigns, deployments and community initiatives to combat animal theft.
Rustling causes huge losses to farmers, causing high levels of anxiety for farmers who have built up their herds over the years.
“I strongly believe that my app can have a wider application and help my father and indeed the whole nation in the fight against stock theft crimes in our country,” Farirai said.
UZ organized the event to showcase new frontiers of knowledge and emerging technologies and innovations within the institution.
“We are delighted to host this event and UZ has many talented students who see possibilities and opportunities to develop new applications that can save our livestock assets, plug revenue leaks and improve our economic growth,” Professor Florence Mtambanengwe said. , Executive Director of the UZ Innovation Hub.
“It’s all part of Education 5.0 – a solution-based education model that aims to harness the ingenuity of our students to find solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems.”
The event was held under the theme: “University of Zimbabwe: Updating a Research-Innovation-Industrialization Ecosystem Model for Zimbabwe’s Economic Development”.