The Yamaha RMAX unpiloted helicopter. The Yamaha drones will be used for air cargo delivery and crop spraying in Kenya. www.businesstoday.co.ke
The Yamaha RMAX unpiloted helicopter. The Yamaha drones will be used for air cargo delivery and crop spraying in Kenya. [Photo/ Yamaha]

Despite tough regulations to govern the use of drones in Kenya, farmers and those in the courier services in Kenya will have options when it comes to deliveries or spraying crops.

This follows a partnership deal between Astral Aerial Solution Japanese drone manufacturer Yamaha Motor Company. In the partnership, the drones will be used for air cargo delivery and crop spraying in Kenya.

Astral Aerial will provide an entry point for the new Yamaha FAZER R G2 drones which is a high-end model for the industrial sector.

Drones for humanitarian, medical deliveries

The deal for the automated navigation unmanned aircraft was sealed at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7).

TICAD is hosted by the Japanese Government in conjunction with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, the African Union Commission, and the World Bank.

Astral Aerial provides drone services in Kenya for a variety of sectors including humanitarian cargo air transport, medical deliveries, Aerial mapping and imagery, Aerial Surveillance and Security, Agriculture, Oil and gas services and emergency response among others.

Astral Aviation CEO & Founder, Sanjeev Gadhia says they are promoting the use of drones in Kenya’s agricultural sector.

The drones are used for crop spraying, remote deliveries and overhead structural and civil engineering inspection functions.

Gadhia said Astral Aviation has diversified its service offering to include drone services which are gaining market acceptance.

“At Astral Aerial Solutions, our mission is to create a drone-revolution in Africa by adapting technology and innovation to solve Africa’s problem so that it can leapfrog to the future,” said Gadhia.

He adds that the partnership with Yamaha provides a necessary impetus to scale their delivery capacity in the agricultural and civil engineering fields.

Yamaha drones in Kenya

Astral Aerial will be introducing the FAZER R G2 drone model in Kenya.

The industrial drone is for use in uninhabited areas out of visual range and carries 35kg at a maximum altitude of 2,800m and a cruising range of 90km.

Last year, – Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, received an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin using its FAZER remotely piloted helicopter for select commercial agricultural spraying operations.

Yamaha has been operating remotely piloted helicopters for commercial purposes since 1991.

In Japan alone, there are over 2,500 Yamaha remotely piloted helicopters utilized in agricultural applications, carrying out pest control in 35% of Japan’s rice fields.

These remotely piloted helicopters are also used in academic research, disaster prevention, observation and survey work.

Challenges facing small scale farmers in Kenya

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy but frustrations and lack of support from the government is leading to a decline in the sector.

Most of Kenya’s farm produce is uncompetitive in the market due to the high costs of farm inputs. Politics has also played a part where well-connected individuals are importing what is available locally at the expense of farmers.

In addition, poor soils to the overuse of fertilisers, climate change and lack of a competitively regulated market have made it even worse.

For the small scale farmers who feed the nation, however, it is impossible to acquire the technology to help them with production.

This means that the drones and other tech advancement disadvantages them.

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