Objectives of the service
There are seven million smallholder farmers in Kenya and they are responsible for producing around seventy percent of the country’s food. Throughout the planting cycle, they have the same decisions to make as their counterparts in all other parts of the world. But they often lack the information and advice needed to make those decisions. One of their key problems is market linkage, the ability to sell their harvests for a fair price.
The so-called agri-processors, who buy and process the harvests, have a different set of problems. They have poor visibility of the quality and quantity of the harvests expected, often relying on a series of middlemen to aggregate the crops from individual farmers and farmer groups. The result is a process which is unreliable and inefficient for both sides.
The Alizeti project will focus on improving this process, using remote sensing technology to provide agri-processors with better visibility of the expected harvest and improved traceability of the crops they purchase. The farmers will benefit from improved market linkage and better advice throughout the growing season.
Users and their needs
The users of the services developed and demonstrated in the Alizeti project are smallholder farmers in Kenya and the agri-processors who purchase and further process their crops.
The agri-processors have three main problems.
- Lack of Visibility – severe problems in crop monitoring and yield estimation during the crop growing stages, making planning of their businesses very difficult.
- Lack of Traceability - limited visibility and traceability of raw materials making the supply chain inefficient. In addition, tax benefits are available in Kenya for purchasing locally-produced crops and agri-processors have difficulty proving this.
- Lack of Transparency – the inability to engage directly with scattered smallholder farmers and the reliance on aggregators who offer low prices to farmers leads to lack of predictability and trust.
This lack of trust in a highly fragmented market is a problem for the smallholder farmers too. In addition, they have the problem of poor market linkage (revenue risks related to lack of market or low farmgate prices) and a high risk of failure (production risks related to weather uncertainty or limited access to sound advice).
Service/ system concept
AgriBORA has developed a digital platform (during the company’s incubation at the ESA BIC Darmstadt), which provides the basis from which all services developed in the Alizeti project will be delivered. It includes a data processing engine for remote-sensing data.
The diagram below shows a crop monitoring report which is currently produced manually and communicated to users as a pdf file. This has been received with great interest by the pilot users in the Alizeti project. One of the aims of the project is to automate production of this report, enhance it with other information and make it available to the users via their own custom-built dashboards.
During the Alizeti project, it is planned to register at least 100.000 farmers on the agriBORA platform. Many of these farmers have no address, a major problem in delivering location-based services. These farmers will be geo-referenced by agriBORA, using a proprietary positioning device which uses satellite navigation technology.
Farmers, many of whom have no smartphone or internet access, will have information sent to them using USSD / SMS technology.
Space Added Value
Within the Alizeti project, satellite navigation technology will be used to geo-reference farmers.
Satellite remote sensing data, in particular data from the European Copernicus programme, will be used as the basis for the services to be delivered to both agri-processors and smallholder farmers.
The Alizeti project kicked off at the beginning of May 2021. The project team travelled to Kenya in July and held user requirements workshops with the six pilot users. The sessions were successful and clear user requirements have been generated and used to design the services to be developed and integrated into the platform. Also, the first complementary services from a European based SME provides Sentinel 1 SAR products useful for agri processors have been identified and are currently being integrated into the platform. Inception meetings to work with three local county governments have been held.