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HomeAfricaArtificial Intelligence, Satellite-Driven Crop Monitoring to Help Kenya Farmers Boost Yield

Artificial Intelligence, Satellite-Driven Crop Monitoring to Help Kenya Farmers Boost Yield


Kenyan farmers will soon be able to make smart, data-driven farming decisions and monitor crops through satellite imagery and artificial intelligence with the help of an upcoming agri-tech platform.

The Directorate of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) and agriculture tech firm Agr-vision are jointly developing a Kenya-wide digital programme for satellite and artificial intelligence (AI) crop monitoring and yield forecasting, according to a press announcement. 

DRSRS advises the Kenyan government on matters regarding Remote Sensing and Geographical Information systems (GIS). The institution has signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with Agr-vision. 

Pilot testing is currently being carried out for the digital crop monitoring platform before the final features are decided. The move aims to boost harvests and food security in the hunger-plagued country, the press statement added. 

The platform will necessitate the ability to digitally monitor and classify various crops across the country, DRSRS Deputy Director Charles Situma stated. It will also provide an advanced analytics tool for enhancing data-driven decision-making by farmers and authorities, he added. 

The agricultural sector contributes 30 per cent to the Kenyan economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the two organisations expressed worry about the sector’s vulnerability amid the ongoing climate crisis.

“The digital tool can help the agriculture sector and decision-makers enhance sustainable food security,” said Situma. 

The platform will enable farmers and decision-makers to get precise information about soils, crops and forests in their endeavour to create more sustainable food security programmes, said Agr-vision Chief Operations Officer Oscar Mwai.

Farming is the primary source of livelihood for most Kenyans in terms of food security, employment creation, economic growth, off-farm employment, and foreign exchange earnings. 

Unfortunately, the sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change largely due to the increasing temperatures, drought and changing rainfall patterns. Other vagaries of extreme weather events like floods, poor agricultural practices, lack of access to knowledge, and low-quality inputs don’t make matters any better for Kenyan farmers.

The two agri-tech giants acknowledge these challenges and hence the big steps they have taken to boost food security for Kenya’s growing population and also increase foreign exchange through export.

“The effects of the climate crisis on the agriculture and forestry sectors are evident and Kenya desperately needs a full transformation in the sectors, including accurate, precise and actionable data. That is where the collaboration between DRSRS and Agr-vision comes in, Situma added.

The platform will have an interactive digital map, real-time analytics, crop monitoring and rotation suggestions and classifying key crops around Kenya. Also included will be real-time soil moisture and weather forecasts, which, besides drones, will be collected from high-resolution satellite imagery.

“The crop monitoring platform will collect data from various sources, including satellite and artificial intelligence, and will be subjected to advanced analytics to refine the data into useful predictive and descriptive insights. These insights will be simplified to guide end users,” Mwai added.

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