We use satellite and weather data to provide farmers with crop specific advice with regards to fertilizers, pests and diseases, and water management of their farms. This helps farmers adapt their agronomy practices in line with changing climate patterns. We also use market data to recommend what crops to plant, and we enable farmers to access urban farm produce consumer markets through our Farmers Best farm produce marketplace.
What types of data are most important for adaptation?
Rainfall, temperature, soil moisture and relative humidity. These parameters have a direct bearing on crop growth and yield that the farmers will get. Considering changing weather patterns seen in the last couple of years, monitoring these parameters closely ensures farmers can adapt their treatment of the crop based on field conditions.
You have introduced an integrated farm advisory and mapping platform that offers farm-specific information. How does this kind of real-time information have a positive impact on farmers and local communities?
Yes it does, farmers can use our platform for practical decision making, such as identifying damaged irrigation pipes, identifying stressed crops and deciding which crops to grow during the long rains and short rain period.
We are facing a global food crisis. What is the role of agricultural data in making the food system more resilient?
Agricultural data will have an immense role in addressing the current food crisis at two levels:
- At a macroeconomic level, getting high level information for governments is critical to ensure proper planning, fiscal incentives and guidance to farmers as to which crops to plant and more importantly, when to plant crops based on expected weather variations. An example of this is how we are seeing agro-ecological zones changing. In Kenya, areas that were suitable for coffee production in the 1970s and 80s are no longer suitable as farmers struggle to get a sustainable yield due to increased temperatures, and areas that were previously not suitable due to high altitude and cold weather are warming up and opening up prospects to grow coffee.
- At the farm level, agricultural data will provide decision support to farmers, cooperatives and farmer business groups as they grapple with the twin crises of soaring input costs and changing climatic patterns.
What trends do you foresee for agri-data management systems in the future?
I foresee a massive consolidation and standardization of agri-data systems. The current crises will spur active merger and acquisition activities in this space. As it stands, there are no dominant players and each innovator comes us with his or her platform, and these platforms don’t always talk to each other. This interoperability will likely be the future of data systems for agriculture.
This article was previously published on InclusiveBusiness.net
Interviewee: MOSES KIMAN
Moses Kimani is Founder and CEO at Lentera Ltd, a farming technology company that provides farmers with market linkage opportunities, digital extension services and quality inputs. Prior to founding Lentera, he held roles with TechnoServe, Dow Chemical Company, Sanergy, and African management Institute. He holds a Master of Business Administration from IMD (International Institute for Management Development ).
Lentera Africa is an AgriTech company providing farmers with practical tools and opportunities to succeed through:
- Market linkages for selected farm commodities: We purchase and market selected commodities from smallholder farmers providing much-needed market access
- Technology-enabled farmer advisory services: Using our advanced technology stack to enable improved yield and quality
- Quality farm inputs and equipment: We finance and distribute selected quality and affordable organic inputs to farmers