Farmers in Vihiga County have become the first in the country to benefit from the use of geospatial technology to boost food production.
The county government and other partners from a consortium of Kenyan and European companies including locateIT(Kenyan), Airbus, ITK and GE-Data (French) through the Kenyan Innovation Low Input Maize Production (KILIMO) project, has used satellite imaging to do land mapping of the county.
Governor Dr Wilber Ottichilo said the satellite imagery has also been used to establish land sizes, to predict weather as well as monitor the crop growth at various stages to detect deficiencies to carry out appropriate intervention for optimal production.
Dr. Ottichillo said KILIMO initiative applies the Precision Agriculture (PA) approach where information technology is used to ensure that the crop receives the correct amount of inputs such as water, fertilizers and pesticides at the appropriate time.
Patrick Armengaud from ITK stated that due to reducing land sizes, PA is the way to go in order to realize maximum returns from farming activities.
He said in the past eight months they have piloted with 1,200 farmers in four wards in Hamisi Sub County and they will ultimately cover all the 25 wards in the county next year.
Armengaud added that digitization of agricultural production has long taken root in the developed economies and they are now spreading it to Africa.
Marie Christine of Airbus Company said they execute the project by sharing geospatial statistics and other satellite generated information with the extension officers who then pass the same to the farmers.
“The extension officers share information with farmers through text messaging on the smart phones,” she stated.
Christine said they carry out soil tests and record climate change information to be able to appropriately advise the farmers on the correct seed varieties and other inputs.
She said they have started with maize because it is the staple food crop in the region but the technology is applicable to other crops.
By Sammy Mwibanda