Smart ICT for Weather and Water Advice to Smallholders in Africa


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Presentation by Bharat Sharma, Principal Researcher (Water Resources) & Coordinator: IWMI-India Programme, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) & Gijs Simons, Project Manager, eLeaf
Session: ICTs/Mobile Apps for Access, Distribution and Application of Agricultural Inputs
on 6 Nov 2013
ICT4Ag, Kigali, Rwanda

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  • This presentation is based on the initial results of an IWMI-lead Project “ Use of Smart ICT for Weather and Water Information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa”. The 3-year project (2011-2014)is funded (US$ 1.8 m) by IFAD and jointly implemented by IWMI, eLeaf-The Netherlands and a number of national partner institutions in Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Mali.
  • With very low development of irrigation facilities and infrastructure in a number of African countries; and need for improvement in the farmer extension services in the remote and isolated areas; the land and water productivity remains low. Under such conditions, the use of modern tools with their greater reach and coverage can be helpful, especially when such tools provide customised services. This project aims to address this need for the African smallholder farmers.
  • This provides the example of an operational service in Ethiopia and Sudan where information on crop growth, soil moisture and mineral nutrition is being provided.
  • The Gash River delta region of Sudan is prone to flash floods . This can be both devastating but also highly useful for the farmers using the spate irrigation- as the floods in the river is the only source of irrigation. The project has set up a special system for flood mapping and forecasting for its efficient management.
  • Discussed during cap building sessions in all three countries
  • The Project has been able to set-up the sites in the local languages for the benefit of the authorities in Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Both the general public and the registered farmers can access the relevant information customised to the individual fields and the entire project region.
  • Smart ICT for Weather and Water Advice to Smallholders in Africa

    1. 1. Smart ICT for Weather and Water Advice to Smallholders in Africa Bharat R Sharma and Gijs Simons International Conference on “ICT4 Ag- the Digital Springboard for Inclusive Agriculture” 4-8 November, 2013; Kigali, Rwanda Water for a food-secure world
    2. 2. Water is an increasingly scarce input in agriculture in Africa and has large impacts on the economy. AgWater capacity and extension is weak and may not reach the small and remote farmers. Smart and affordable technologies need to be adapted to customize farm water management for smallholders. Water for a food-secure world
    3. 3. What are the opportunities to use ICT to increase agricultural productivity? • Satellite images are increasingly being used to assist commercial farmers and agribusinesses. • Innovative approaches and ICT based technologies. • Advice to end users for: • informed decision making • enhanced negotiation capacity with water and farm related service providers Water for a food-secure world
    4. 4. Project areas • Project aimed at smallholders: 60 pilot farmers per site are intensively monitored and supported (2012/2013) • Services are free of charge (IFAD): many additional users have registered – commercial farmers, research, government, etc.
    5. 5. In situ data collection (Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan) Block delineation by farmers Operational Irrigation and Crop Advisory Service Dissemination (Egypt, Ethiopia, S udan) Meteo data Data processing (NL) Calibration and validation (NL & country sites) Crop water consumption Sophisticated data processing Earth observation data MODIS Basis EO data processing Website with map server & Irrigation forecast tool Meteorological data processing Irrigation forecasts FengYun Internet DMC MSG SMS Gateway Value Adding Partnerships (Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan) Data and information exchange SMS to farmers cell phone
    6. 6. Data production • ET, Biomass Production and related parameters are calculated spatially discrete for all three project areas, based on highresolution images Raw DMC satellite data for 21-11-2012 (L), and derived daily evapotranspiration (M) and biomass production (R). • Instantaneous data (valid for the moment of satellite image capturing) are converted to weekly products for the pre-defined seasons • This procedure is repeated every week: keeping track of the varying crop water conditions throughout the season
    7. 7. Example Operational service Example FieldLook Web Platform   Information packages ((2)weekly/seasonal) Based on satellite imagery Growth • biomass production (kg/ha) leaf area index LAI (m2 leaf/m2 ground) vegetation index NDVI • • • Moisture • • • • • • • • evaporation shortage (mm/week) current evaporation (mm/week) surplus rain (mm/2 weeks) reference evaporation Minerals Nitrogen content in the top leaf layer (kg/ha) Nitrogen content in all leafs (kg/ha) Smart ICT for Weather and Water Information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa
    8. 8. Inundation and flood forecasting: The Gash River, Sudan • Frequent rain-induced floods result in heavy losses in agriculture in this region The GeoSFM is a semidistributed physically based hydrological model that simulates the dynamics of runoff processes using RS data Spatially distributed data is assimilated to simulate stream flow on a daily basis w.php?id=12099 Water for a food-secure world
    9. 9. Towards an SMS service for farmers • Smallholders - limited internet access • SMS is ideal method for receiving information: 75% of the pilot farmers in Sudan prefer SMS over verbal messages and newsletter (UNA) Cell phone coverage in the area is excellent • Information can be received while in the field, thus immediate action is possible • How to go from spatial information to textbased SMS? • What information to provide? • Quantitative or qualitative information? • Timely information delivery: interactivity is required
    10. 10. Farmer On demand SMS information + Date Provision to system Real-time Tool calculation Irrigation Server Text message: From: <Mob. number> IrriLook <Fieldname> -i 25 To …. free From: FieldLook Please register … To <Mob. number> Check: <Mob. number> in Database? Option F Check: <Fieldname> in Database? Update system Run real-time calculation Extract: Fieldname(s) from user from database free free From: Fieldlook We have the following fields registered … To <Mob. number> From: FieldLook <Fieldname> Please try again later… To <Mob. number> Determine: data/advice from calculation results From: Fieldlook <Fieldname> data/advice To <Mob. number>
    11. 11. Smart ICT SMS service 1. Fieldlook information - field-average biomass production and water use efficiency - cumulative values related to the average value for the same crop and the same week of the growing season - on-demand and weekly „push‟ - qualitative and qualitative 2. Irrigation advice on demand - updated daily based on Irrigation Planner 3. Farmer inputs on irrigation amounts for running the Irrigation Planner - full, medium, low Received messages are at no cost! Performance biomass growth since start season for Sorghum: similar to average of all Wheat fields. Advice 12/03/2013 Onion: Irrigate in 3 or 4 days.
    12. 12. Irrigation planner: impact example Hashamia 10 - Soil Moisture Levels Alternative Irrigation Scheme 0.3 Soil Moisture Level (cm3/cm3) Soil Moisture Level (cm3/cm3) Hashamia 10 - Soil Moisture Levels Original Irrigation Scheme 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 Date Soil Moisture (cm3/cm3) Date Field Capacity (cm3/cm3) Plant Water Stress Point (cm3/cm3) Wilting Point (cm3/cm3) Soil Moisture (cm3/cm3) Name Field Capacity (cm3/cm3) Plant Water Stress Point (cm3/cm3) Wilting Point (cm3/cm3) Hasha10_alternative E_tot T_tot ET_tot Emax Tmax percolation NDVI_max Soil type [mm] Hasha10_new Irr_total [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [-] [-] 450 209 68 68 168 168 236 233 1.9 1.9 3.2 3.2 252 Sandy 0.65 loam 0 Sandy 0.65 loam
    13. 13. Water for a food-secure world Photo: Andrea Silverman/IWMI Photo: :Tom van Cakenberghe/IWMI Photo David Silverman/IWMI Photo: Andrea Brazier/IWMI
    14. 14. Operational Websites for the Project sites:; Also available in the Arabic Language Smart ICT for Weather and Water Information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa
    15. 15. Bharat Sharma and Gijs Simons International Water Management Institute- New Delhi, India & The Competence Centre, eleaf, The Netherlands Water for a food-secure world