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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)


Delivering crop yield nowcasts and forecasts by integrating satellite data and crop modeling in sub-Saharan Africa


PI: Ejiet John Wasige (johnwasige@gmail.com), Makerere University, and co-PI Langa Tembo, University of Zambia
U.S. Partner: Forrest Melton, California State University Monterey Bay, and the NASA Ames Research Center Cooperative for Research in Earth Science and Technology (NASA ARC-CREST)
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

Africa nations have significant gaps in their ability to produce and deliver near real-time crop yield information and mainstream these in national and farmer operational decision making. There are currently four "global" agricultural monitoring systems: the Global Information and Early Warning System of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, the Monitoring Agricultural Resources network of the European Union, and the system of the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The data they have published inevitably have a long lag time in comparison with "conventional" reporting of crop production. The data are also aggregated at the national or district scale and vary in accuracy and availability. The integration of earth observation (EO) data and crop modeling can overcome technical limitations to quantitative yield estimates, and such an effort is justified by the fact that EO data can be used to quantify crop health status at any given time, while the crop model can describe crop growth every day throughout the season on a pixel basis.

The goal of this project is rapid development of large-scale, real-time crop production mapping tools that will close a significant gap in crop yield data availability and enhance the capacity of African governments to deliver reliable near real-time crop production information for decision makers in agricultural planning and food security management. Members of this project team will work toward that goal while also developing the capacity of agriculture extension workers to bring that kind of information to farmers and assist them in incorporating it into their planning to combat threats to crop production in the case of abnormal weather conditions. Ultimately this should help to enhance reliable access to food in sub-Saharan Africa.


Summary of Recent Activities

In this quarter, the team has made progress on the development of an online Web-Based Near Real-Time crop production monitoring data and information tool for agricultural planning. This will be linked to a smart mobile phone application service to broadcast data and information to farmers and the extension officers. A website has already been developed to establish an online presence for the project. The website has been named as: “Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Services,” with a domain name: SCIEWS.com. The website will be launched soon.

Dr. Wasige and his team have conceptualized and finalized the design of a location based service for agro-meteorology and agriculture water management. They have identified various data sources (e.g. MODIS, Landsat, Google Earth Engine, Open Weather Maps) list of third party data services and hardware and software design stack

Activities related to promotion of policy dialogue and advocacy at different levels was carried out. They developed policy recommendations for increased supply, prioritization and adoption of relevant near real-time agricultural monitoring information for planning. For this task, data collection has been completed. The data analysis and literature review is ongoing for the two project countries (Uganda and Zambia). The policy dialogue and advocacy workshops are planned for July in Uganda and Zambia. The workshops are aimed at determining constraints and identify means to overcome constraints that prohibit potential delivery of real-time seasonal agricultural monitoring/early warning data and information to farmers and other stakeholders

In the next 3-6 months, Dr. Wasige and his team plan to have and operationalize the online Web-Based Near Real-Time crop production monitoring data and information tool for visualization and wide dissemination operational and linked to smart mobile phoneApp service to broadcast data and information to farmers and the extension

They will also be working on strengthening Farmer Field Schools (FFS). These are learning groups at community level and national staff capacities to access and use Near Real-Time crop production monitoring data and information for agricultural planning. For this task, they have made contacts with farmer groups, and district and national government staff in Zambia and Uganda that will be engaged in receiving data and information. They will further conduct workshops to train this target groups in the used of online web-services and smart phones to access information for agricultural production planning

Lastly, they will conduct national workshop to promote policy dialogue and advocacy at different levels and develop policy recommendations for increased supply, prioritization and adoption of relevant near real-time agricultural monitoring information for planning. For this activity, policy dialogue and advocacy workshops are planned in Uganda and Zambia. The workshops are aimed at determining constraints and identify means to overcome constraints that prohibit potential delivery of real-time seasonal agricultural monitoring/early warning data and information to farmers and other stakeholders. They will validate the results of survey on policy and stakeholders' willingness to pay for smartphone service delivery of real-time seasonal agricultural monitoring/early warning data and information


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