For years, Agriculture has been one of the largest yielding sectors for the Kenyan economy. However, Kenya has not been including technology as much into the agricultural places. This is what Carina Joupert, with iMetos, is trying to help the country with.
Carina showcased her Agritech innovation at the Kenya Innovation Week with suggestions of how it might help Kenyan farmers get the most out of their agricultural practices. iMetos has developed a technology that helps farmers make decisions based on accurate weather data.
The technology will help farmers know when the best time to apply a pesticide is, the best time to irrigate and the amount of water needed for irrigation.
Farmers in Kenya have been applying pesticides to their crops but they have little or no assurance of whether the pesticides have served their purpose on the field. Decisions on when a farmer can apply a specific pesticide to the crops are based on temperature, humidity and wind.
A farmer can apply a pesticide but it all evaporates or gets washed away by the rain before it actually does its job.
“Currently, farmers either apply a pesticide because they are scared a certain disease will affect their crops but maybe the climatic conditions are not favourable for the disease to develop so they waste the pesticide and in turn lose their money,” she explains, “other farmers wait until they see the disease in the field before applying pesticide and at that time it is already too late for the pesticide to do anything to save the crop.”
In terms of irrigation, the technology looks at the water usage of the plant with the daily evapotranspiration rate. This helps the farmer know not to apply too much water than what the crop needs (wasting water) and not to apply too little water that the crop will not benefit in the end.
Speaking to a CIO Africa reporter, Carina assured that iMetos’ model has 75% success rate in weather forecast.
“When you install the weather station, the accuracy is 25% but once it connects with our model, it starts to calibrate so it will begin recording the forecast and the data of the accuracy. When it is done calibrating for the first 30 days that it is installed, the accuracy shoots to a 75% rate,” she noted.
The weather forecast station has an accurate radius of 30 kilometres. In South Africa, where this model has been used, this serves only one farmer. However, if the program is enrolled in Kenya, one weather station can serve several farmers.
It is important to note that terrain plays a tremendous role in weather conditions. Metos SA therefore collaborated with TerraClim, a user-friendly application combining weather and terrain data, in the Climate Smart Agriculture project. This project aims to improve the weather station network in the Western Cape in South Africa, in order to provide farmers with easily accessible, accurate weather and terrain data to assist decisionmaking in their operations. This application is able to advise how to use a field’s terrain and historic weather conditions to his advantage, for example, which cultivar is best suited.
In South Africa, the program is supported by the Technology Innovation Agency of South Africa which is part of the Department of Science and Innovation. Ms Joupert hopes to have the same kind of structure when the program is enrolled in Kenya.