World Bank official says pilot observatory platform to provide reliable weather statistics to farmers
The country’s food balance sheet is set to positively change with farmers and policy-makers facilitated to access accurate, timely and reliable data to make decisions on production.
World Bank and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) have launched a new platform to enhance access to high-resolution geospatial agro-meteorology data thereby enabing policy makers and farmers optimise decision-making processes.
The Sh100 million pilot agricultural observatory platform (AOP) seeks to provide comprehensive data to farmers, researchers and policy makers to use it to aggregate food production.
Eliud Kireger, Kalro director general said the agricultural observatory platform will be implemented under the Kenya Climate Resilient Agricultural (KCSAP) project which the World Bank and Israel Government are funding.
World Bank Lead Agriculture Economist Ladisy Chengula said during the launch on Monday that the new data production platform is expected to contribute to improved food production and thus shield the country against perennial food crisis.
He said the two organisations are in the last stages of finalising the project with the government.
“World Bank is piloting the project in Ethiopia and Kenya. In Kenya it is at an advanced stage as training of information and communications technology staff has started with commencement of the project expected later this month,” said Chengula.
Kireger said the project would be implemented on pilot basis by Kalro and Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD). The two are charged with implementing KCSAP to support agro-weather, market, climate and advisory services. KMD owns 23 sites that provides agro-weather data and they are mostly concentrated in Central and Rift Valley regions.
The new system will be implemented in 24 counties in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and medium to high rainfall regions to widen scope of data collection and processing.
Over 30 staff from Kalro, KMD, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, and others from Uganda’s ministry of Agriculture, and national research organisations are being trained on predictive data analytics and integration into agriculture.
Low food production in the country has for long been blamed on lack of accurate, timely and reliable information from the concerned authorities mainly government, research agencies and extension officers.
Kireger said rainfall delay for two weeks in every start of the season contributes to 40 per cent food reduction.
“But with this system, a farmer can be able to look for maize varieties that can perform for the remaining period and thus avoid further losses. Under the new system farmers will get update information and thus be able to plan in advance in every season,” said Kireger.
He said the general purpose of the pilots would be to test the agricultural observatory platform in the Kenya, and assess its usefulness for more effective forecasting and risk management in the sector.