Green islands: Technology and innovation at the service of agriculture and the environment

Green islands: Technology and innovation at the service of agriculture and the environment

Posted December 6, 2021
Author: Samory Araújo, Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Cabo Verde Accelerator Lab

The desertification issues in the Cape Verde Islands over the past decades has proven to be a very serious problem that affects the entire archipelago. During Covid-19 pandemic several families lost their jobs and quality of life, so many of them need to find alternatives to sustain their families. In desertification, there are concerns of soil erosion, inaccessible land and the lack of field workers which makes agriculture significantly inefficient. Cape Verde island is mainly sustained by agriculture and tourism. It is important to ensure that agricultural practices are improved and the desertification issues resolved by reforestation.

The Climate Change issue: how to increase the forests areas and introduce innovative techniques on agriculture in Cabo Verde

The Green Islands project was created to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) as a viable and efficient technological solution to optimize the reforestation process at the national level, directed to the restoration of natural seed banks, pasture for animal consumption and soil preservation. This is a solution that allows to act quickly, timely and efficiently, making the most of soil moisture, ensuring a germination of seeds and a healthy growth of plants. This project allows to have a better management of human and material resources, which are often scarce or consume a lot of time gathering all the necessary and indispensable in a timely manner.

Technology and innovation at the service of agriculture and the environment

The Green Islands project was motivated by these learning questions: What the revolutionary way to counteract and minimize the impact of the Covid-19? Who is most affected by the impact of climate change and pandemic on the agriculture? The geographical location of Cape Verde islands and the dry climate, the drought that has plagued the country for three consecutive years is directly and indirectly affecting 37% of the population, which corresponds to about 196,000 people, most of them rural areas. Regarding agriculture, Cape Verde is significantly affected with dry climates and limited farmers. Over the centuries the ingenuity of the inhabitants, combined with hard work, has allowed local populations to struggle with adverse weather conditions and produce their livelihood by using wells, and holes. An aerial drone produced by a young engineer was launched to release seed balls to tackle the country's climate challenges. The project aims to optimize the reforestation process at the national level, for the preservation of the soil and the environment. The drone will be used for sowing, soil fertilization and pesticide spraying, as a revolutionary, cost-effective way to assist agriculture and reforestation effectively and efficiently in the country. In addition, families can benefit from momentary crops such as, corn, beans and other types of cereal which we know requires minimal water and its favorable to current climate conditions. 

The Green Islands project, is in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment's REFLOR-CV project, funded by the European Union and FAO, to support the use of new technologies to combat desertification and promote reforestation. The production of seed balls is a technique that consists of launching selected seeds encapsulated with clay over a defined location, whose function is to protect and provide an appropriate environment for germination of them, especially in places suffering from water shortages and desertification. Through the Green Islands project of accelerator LAB, the seedballs (seeds encased in clay) were launched using drone, in two locations of Santiago where the forest project is inserted: Serra Malagueta and Achada Leite.

In addition to the use of drones and the production of seed balls by local communities; there was also previous work mapping the localities that would be covered by the innovative initiative. There was a whole preparation and choice of soil where the seeds would be released.


It is significant that the Green Islands project, designed and implemented by UNDP Accelerator Lab presents its first reforestation experience using an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), to launch seeds in green areas, aiming to optimize the reforestation process and soil and environmental preservation, in a period that COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework convention on Convention Climate Change.

Here are some of the links where the project was published:


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