AGCO Africa Ambassador
Weather affects everything. It is both an essential resource and a significant risk factor for life on Earth. What’s more, weather is one of the most unpredictable aspects of human existence, yet we have no choice but to try our hand at predicting it. After all, our very lives depend on our having ample supplies of foodstuffs that are themselves dependent on adequate precipitation, growing seasons and so forth. Weather is no small matter. Many businesses are directly or indirectly linked with weather conditions. For instance, agriculture relies on perfect weather forecasting for when to plant, irrigate and harvest.
Farmers are highly vulnerable to weather shocks, particularly in Africa, where there is a high reliance on rain-fed agriculture. It is therefore unsurprising that much attention has been paid to developing climate risk management tools for farmers to mitigate and transfer the risk of weather shocks such as drought and flood. Small farms are vulnerable to climate risk, but most smallholder farmers around the world don’t have access to insurance and other financial tools to manage fluctuations in climate.
Insurance is one way to increase resiliency to climate shocks, but not only in the way you might think. There’s a subtler benefit to agriculture insurance, and one that is essential for adapting our food systems to a changing climate: when farmers feel financially secure, they’re more likely to take productive risks. In the decades to come, we can expect increasingly difficult growing seasons for farmers, and so taking advantage of good years will become more and more important – for both our food supply and farmers’ livelihoods. In recent years, agricultural insurance has become part research Actuarial Science program, particularly weather index-based insurance (WII). The interesting aspect has been that, rather than compensating observed damage, compensation in WII is determined on the basis of an independent index (such as the cumulative precipitation falling in a certain window of time or the average yield over a district).
The agriculture insurance, called weather index insurance, will provide a way to fill the insurance gap by basing payouts on weather and satellite data instead of expensive site visits from claims adjusters. This will be an addition to already developed Livestock indexed based insurance by ILRI researchers. The indexed based crop insurance will protect farmers against financial risks posed by extreme weather events, and has been widely advocated as a tool to help farmer households to escape poverty traps and invest in climate-smart high-productivity agriculture. Over the past decade there has been great deal of effort placed into index insurance–that may have the potential to reach these farmers. Unlike more traditional forms of insurance, which require individual verification of losses, index insurance works by providing payouts when a measurable index flags a major problem that the farmers face, such as a widespread drought or flood. In theory, this should allow insurance coverage to reach many more farmers
Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA?
Transforming Weather Information Growth In Africa – TWIGA is a 4-year project (2018 – 2021) under EU Horizon2020 aimed to transform weather water data into value-added information services.
Satellite data provide by TWIGA will give index insurance the scaling power needed to reach all the small scale farmers across Africa.
A Kenyan Insurance sector stakeholders workshop will be held this first quarter of 2019 to address the challenges available in implementing weather indexed based insurance. The theme of the workshop will be: Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA? This could be the start of touching the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers across the African continent that are under threat from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods with risks projected to increase significantly in future years due to climate change.
Developers require the ability to easily combine weather functionality, including forecast and observational data, with numerous data and application services to build advanced web and mobile applications that leverage cognitive capabilities, analytics, mobile and IoT services without wasting cycles installing or managing software and deploying hardware.
In conclusion, remotely sensed data can be used to extend weather index insurance to millions of farmers in Africa and beyond—potentially mitigating their exposure to climate-related risk. On the other hand, inappropriate use of these data could cause great harm. This workshop enabled key players in the weather index insurance industry to engage directly with data providers and scientists. As a result, data providers now have a clearer idea of the ways in which their products are being used. The insurance industry, moreover, has a better understanding of both the opportunities and pitfalls of using remotely sensed data. Following the success of this workshop, the participants agreed that deeper engagement between data providers, scientists, and the weather index insurance industry would be of benefit to all parties. Further workshops, projects, and collaborations are planned to focus on the intelligence and Analytics platform is powered by AI techniques that leverage real-time weather feeds and historical data. This will consider GIS analytics where the following will be the main focus: Live weather feeds from different locations (Latitude/Longitude); Temperature, water level, wind and other sensors continuously transmitting data; Historical weather data publicly available; Weather maps (precipitations, clouds, pressure, temperature, wind, weather stations).
The project aims to achieve the following benefits to the Kenya and Africa as a whole ;
- Farmers get warned earlier of what the weather will be like for that particular month.
- Help farmers to take appropriate precautions to stay safe in case of unwanted occurrences.
- With forecasting methods, farmers can get better outcomes with the help of accurate predictions. Hence farmers will be able to plan the planting as per water supplies.
Every farmer understands the importance of monitoring the crops and/or animals in the farm. It is important to monitor crop growth, field environment, and farming operations in order to increase the agricultural productivity and to promote efficient management. With the growing green revolution in progress the world of agriculture and smart farms are taking a leading role in ensuring efficient, innovative, dynamic and eco-friendly farms. Farmers are now looking for smart ways to monitor and manage their crops remotely.
Farmers over the years have experienced problems related to water usage and supply, energy supply and the demerit of distance of accessing these resources. The importance of monitoring the water usage in farms is increasing with farmers seeking technology that will help them improve their agricultural productivity.
@iLabAfrica Research Centre based in Strathmore University in collaboration with IBM Kenya, and Oregon State University together with Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) intend to come together to develop an intelligent farm Management system that leverages Internet of Things(IoT) architecture through remote sensing and low power wide area networks as well data analytics. The overall concept of the system is to be able to build deeper analytics that can provide more information in a predictive model to help farmers understand their farms in terms of soil composition and changes, water usage and evaporation rates as well as the changing weather parameters that can visually present an insightful trend on the changing climate. This project collaboratively explores a way of remote monitoring that could guarantee farmers an easy way to understand various parameters such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture and water levels in various tanks on their farms among other parameters. This is expected to provide a smarter approach to farming, referred to as Precision Farming.
The data collected in the Internet of Things (IoT) stack in this project so far includes temperature, humidity, water level (rate of water evaporation also monitored through the use of evaporimeters –provided by Oregon State University), battery level and the signal strength of the data transmitting devices.
To reliably provide this solution, the project is expected to use GSM/GPRS and Long Range (LoRa) connectivity to achieve the desired Machine-to-Machine data exchange between the farms and the cloud since the farming areas envisioned in these concept are located in rural areas. These areas experience poor signal strength even on the cellular network. Hence, the need to also gather data on the signal strength of the network.
Currently, two IoT devices of this kind have been deployed to a test farm in Kitengela, south of Nairobi. The devices are currently powered by mini solar-panels and continually transmit data at an interval of 15 minutes. These devices make of the GSM/GPRS technology as at now. The project as is, has proven to be working and data can be relayed from the farm to both a web and a mobile interface through IBM’s Cloudant database. The information gathered provides real-time information on the parameters described to the farmer.
The next step of development will be to deploy the solution in more farms and build a low cost, low maintenance weather station that can be used by farmers and also provide an irrigation service that can intelligently be measured and remotely actuated. Alternative Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) communication technology, in this case, LoRa will also be implemented to provide a more stable and reliable service of transmitting these data.
@iLabAfrica IoT Manager and project lead Mr. Leonard Mabele mentioned that “with more funding, we can reach out to more farmers in remote areas and acquire more devices for deployment, mass testing and implementation. This will also allow us to reach out to IoT security experts to enable us to not only develop a working solution but a securely tested one as well. This projects will see us uplift the process and yields of farmers and in return build their communities.
For more information about this click HERE
The AGCO Africa Ambassador Program invites individuals above 21 years of age to submit video (30 seconds to 3 minutes long) of themselves explaining why they should be chosen to act as the AGCO Africa Ambassador to Germany during the International Green Week (16-25 January 2015) in Berlin. The Ambassador will also host the AGCO Africa Summit on 19 January 2015.
An individual will be selected as the Ambassador and s/he will occupy the position for one year period. The ambassador will be responsible to regularly report (bi-weekly) about trends and developments in African agriculture and economy as well as AGCO‘s activities in Africa on Facebook and Twitter in posts, uploads and video messages during the one year contract period (when appropriate, participation at AGCO events in Africa).
- $10,000 Cash award at the beginning of the one-year contract.
- Reimbursement for all reasonable traveling expenses solely related to participation as the AGCO Africa Ambassador.
- Represent Africa for AGCO as an AGCO Africa Ambassador at the International Green Week fair in Berlin, Germany from 16-25 January 2015.
- Host the AGCO Africa Summit on 19 January 2015 in the fair.
- Applicant must have proof of African origin and valid passport from an African Country. S/he should be present resident of an African country.
- Candidate must be minimum 21 years with fluency in English language.
- Candidate must not have any record of criminal behavior including crimes of moral turpitude or which might bring AGCO into disrepute.
- Candidate must not have membership in extreme, radical or violent groups including but not limited to groups which advocate the violent overthrow of any government.
- Applicant must not have any record of human rights offenses.
- Candidate must be available to participate in both events – International Green Week Fair and AGCO Africa Summit.
- Applicants must be eligible to receive a visa to enter Germany during the event.
- Applicants cannot be an employee or immediate family member of an employee with AGCO.
- Submissions must be no less than thirty (30) seconds and/or no more than three (3) minutes in length.
The competition is an incredible one and many individuals have already submitted their applications. Do submit a video yourself you just might be the winner.
Deadline October 17th 2014.