Observatory platform that will improve data for farmers
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23 October 2018
Author :   Wamaitha Ngotho
A weather station in Kwale County : >> Image Credits by:Isaiah Esipisu

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation and the World Bank are working towards an agricultural observatory platform that will enable institutions access high resolution agro-meteorological data.

The partnership is to support Kenya Climate Resilient Agriculture (KCSAP) project under the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation to pilot the Agricultural Observatory Platform for the sector for one year.

The data that will be received from satellites will help policy makers and farmers optimize on data that supports agro weather, market, climate and advisory markets.

Speaking during the launch of the pilot Agricultural Observatory Platform, KALRO Director General Dr. Eliud Kireger said the biggest challenge in agriculture performance has been lack of accurate, timely and reliable weather.

“This data will be able to give accurate information as it will observe information such as temperature, weather and rainfall that will be availed to scientists to make sense of it and in turn  provide digital meteorological information using modern ICT tools,” he said.

Kireger added that depending on the focus given through the platform, information collected will also be availed to policy makers and farmers to make timely and informed decisions.
For the farmers, the DG said they will be able get information on how to prepare early depending on indication of the weather such as early rainfall, poor rainfall or even lack of and thus plan.

He said that the policy makers and through the observatory platform will  now be able to advise farmers through the Agricultural extension systems  on  even the variety of maize they need to plant depending on the area data.

Kireger noted that the two-year Agricultural Observatory Platform will  be able to aggregate field and farm level data into able information that provides insight in addressing the challenge of where it rained, where crops failed and how many people were impacted.

The Lead Agriculture Economist from the World Bank, Ladisy Komba Chengula said that the system will be up and running by end of the month.

He explained that with only 23 meteorological sites that are providing agro weather data and mostly concentrated in Central and rift valley  the current observatory platform will be providing data on  rains, temperature, wind and speed in an area of 9 by 9 kms square.

“This access is high resolution, reliable and it means we will be having 7,200 agro weather stations that will be giving data,” he said.

Chengula explained that the current 23 Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) owns the ground stations that compliments the data gotten from the satellite and will cost yearly subscription of USD 50,000 which is a subsidy considering one MET stations would cost USD10, 000.

“The biggest climate risk Kenya has is drought which alternates with floods even with good rains, this platform will see scientism be able to predict when floods will happen and in which area,” he said.

Agronomists says two weeks delay of rains means that 40 percent reduction of yields will occur but with this system one can be able to postpone in order not to incur losses and this is the kind of scientific message that is pertinent for any production decisions that farmers or policy makers can make,” he said.

The system will operate through all the 47 counties, as well as the East African Region and this system is not only for local monitoring but traders can be able to look at what is happening in other areas.

The observatory platform is the first of its kind in Africa  and being implemented in Kenya and Ethiopia  before being replicated in other countries in Africa upon the success.

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