With the start of the March rains, Kitui, Kenya – a semi-arid location 100km east of Nairobi – is seeing the start of a good season. This is a critical bit of information for all parts of the agricultural value chain.
Not only do farmers need to get their seed into the ground, but if the rains continue to be good, then fertilizer application is warranted.
Since agricultural service organizations are also able to monitor the rains, they will know when and where fertilizer will be needed and they can initiate targeted shipments. Moreover, the monitoring of growing season ‘health’ will inform food processors of where yields are likely to be positive, ensuring that bulk transportation is sent to the right areas at harvest.
Monitoring the weather with a spatial perspective provides a mechanism to inform across the value chain.
The aWhere weather module is a tool to access current and historical, observed and daily forecasted weather – all available on-line by simply clicking on a location. Risk, a key attribute to any on-the-ground investment, starts to become quantified as this historical record grows.
To improve our weather data, aWhere is taking multiple steps along several lines of investment. First, we have begun installing automatic weather stations (AWS) on the sub-Saharan continent. With two stations live, these observations serve to fill gaps in the current real-time observation network. These stations will improve the resultant surfaces. Next, we are initiating work with Colorado State University, whose Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere creates a daily, satellite-derived, precipitation estimate, custom fit to the aWhere weather module’s existing 5 arc-minute grid resolution. These satellite derived data will be a tremendous enhancement to the existing – and future (for risk estimates) – information accessible through the weather module.