Representatives of 9 organizations from 3 countries attended the 3rd CROPMON consortium meeting last week. The participants attended four days of meetings and a day of excursion exploring the best farming practices in the Netherlands. Aim of the meeting was to discuss future challenges and developments.
Providing practical information to 5,000 farmers
The CROPMON project started in September 2015. It aims to make crop monitoring information available and affordable to smallholder farmers in Kenya. SoilCares (now part of AgroCares) is one of the partners in the CROPMON project.
After over a year of research and development, the CROPMON project rolled out a text messaging service to Kenyan farmers in December 2016. Currently, the project has reached 5,000 farmers providing them with two text messages per week – one containing a location specific weather forecast and one with information on the development of their crops based on satellite images.
David Marcelis, coordinator of the CROPMON project: “CROPMON is a unique project. It provides access to and interpretation of large remote sensing datasets to actual individual farmers. Farmers who before only had access to national weather forecasts and have never had their soils tested now weekly receive location specific information and advice on the management of their crops and soil.”
The 3rd consortium conference
The aim of the conference was to bring together all project partners from three countries – the Netherlands, Kenya and Turkey. The main topics were the business opportunities behind the project, optimization of the work process and internal monitoring and evaluation. The conference ended with an excursion to an organic farm near Wageningen and a visit to a precision agriculture trial farm from Wageningen University. Participants could get acquainted there with Dutch agricultural practices.
Farmers are satisfied with the accuracy of the information
As part of the project, a feedback survey was carried out among 180 farmers. One of the objectives of the conference was to discuss this feedback and generate ideas on how to use the information to further improve the service. The results of the survey indicate that farmers are satisfied with the accuracy of the information they receive weekly: 85% of the respondents say the crop status and advice was correct, whereas 95% of them think the weather forecast was correct. David Marcelis: “We have learned a lot from the users’ feedback. We are now looking into the possibilities to use this information to adapt the service to best suit farmers’ information needs. Our goal is to reach 150,000 farmers that are not only registered for the service but are actually using it and benefiting from it too.”
In the coming months the partners involved in the project we will be working on creating a viable business case for the crop monitoring service.
More about the CROPMON Project:
CROPMON is a project funded by the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) facility with the aim to deliver farm management information to smallholder farmers across Kenya and improve their livelihoods. Project partners include SoilCares Research BV, Springg BV, NEO BV, Weather Impact BV, Cereal Growers Association (CGA), Coffee Management Services Ltd (CMS), Equity Group Foundation (EGF), Sugar Research Institute (SRI) and SoilCares Ltd. The third CROPMON Consortium Meeting took place on 25-29th of September in Wageningen, the Netherlands.