The application of the internet of things in the South African livestock farming

South Africa will need to increase its food supply by 50% by 2050, catering to an estimated population of seventy-three (73) million. In Quarter four (Q4) of 2019, the agriculture sector employed 885 000 people in South Africa and continues to play a vital part in job creation in the rural areas. There are 35 000 registered commercial farmers in South Africa, with 40% made up of field crop farmers while 60% comprises livestock farming. However, South African livestock farmers (producers) need to continuously deal with the changing environmental, social and economic factors that require innovative methods to ensure the sustainability of livestock production income. While the livestock farming sector needs to contribute towards the food security agenda, livestock farmers continue to deal with challenges related to predation of livestock and a surge in livestock theft. South Africa has realised the importance of the fourth industrial revolution as its potential to propel the country to the new age of digital prosperity. The advances in digital technologies have seen the emergence of new and complementary business models transforming many industries. Digital platforms such as the Internet of Things are poised to provide solutions to some of the most complex cross-industry challenges. In South Africa, there is an emergence of innovative data collection methods such as big data analytics and IoT currently being used for field crop and livestock monitoring, giving rise to precision farming. While IoT promises potential business value generation, recent studies show that IoT applications are confronted with challenges resulting in a handful of IoT projects deemed successful. The study explored the determinants that affect the Internet of Things (IoT) application in South African livestock farming. First, it evaluates the technical factors that play a role in the implementation of IoT; secondly evaluates the nontechnical factors and assesses the positioning of IoT solutions to customers (livestock enterprises) by IoT service providers as means for business value generation. Drawing from these different viewpoints, (1) technology, (2) user, and iv (3) the business aspect of IoT, the Design Thinking Framework was used to provide guiding principles that may be utilised to facilitate the application of IoT in South African livestock farming. This qualitative study followed the snowballing sampling approach to conduct telephonic interviews with IoT experts. The data was collected from a saturated sample size of 13 participants who posed local and international exposure in IoT application and livestock farming. Furthermore, a sizable group out of the 13 subjects were livestock farmers interviewed for triangulation purposes.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in Digital Business to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, 2020