Posted on 2 June 2016
The objective of the CropMon project, which started on 1 September 2015, is to develop an affordable crop monitoring service that provides smallholder and medium-sized farmers in Kenya with location-specific and real time information about the actual status of their crops using satellite, weather, soil and farm data. Possible causes for yield depressions are given, and corrective measures to overcome this are proposed.
Of the total land area, only 9% is used for crop cultivation. The agriculture sector, with primary exports of tea, horticultural products and coffee, represents more than 20% of GDP. About 75% of Kenya’s labour force is dedicated to agriculture.
Gerrit Hiemstra of Weather Impact: “We look at the links between weather and crop quality and quantity. When we visited Kenya we found that the locals had very little access to meteorological information. They had to work with a monthly overview and a seasonal forecast. And they watched the sky and the wind. We want to improve on that, for instance with the 'plume' forecast: the longer-range the forecast, the greater the uncertainty and the wider the plume. This can be applied to ordinary weather forecasts as well as extreme weather situations. Our ultimate aim is to develop a mobile app.”
The project entails 150,000 farmers growing coffee, cereals and fodder. An important role is played by the Cereal Growers Association and the comparable organisation Coffee Management Services. It is up to the advisors in these organisations to translate the project data into information for the farmers and their corporations. The project also looks at commercial feasibility and financial sustainability, in which microfinance also plays a part.
”The trick is to bring all these components together into a single, integrated approach. Here's a simple example: if you have better information about the course of a rainy season, you can sow and harvest your crop at just the right moment.”
Crop Monitoring Kenya is a project financially supported by Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW). G4AW improves food security in developing countries by using satellite data. The Netherlands Space Office (NSO) is implementing this programme, which was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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