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[KIGALI] As technological innovations continue to multiply at a breath taking pace, African farmers can now tap into ‘smart’ weather data to accurately monitor their farming activities for enhanced efficiency and profitability.

The ICT4Ag conference in Kigali, Rwanda, held early this month (4-8 November), was an eye-opener, showcasing latest interventions for helping farmers, governments and NGOs with uniquely powerful software applications tailored to the agricultural sector.

“We have released three new products — government, farmer and co-op editions — to help coffee stakeholders around the world protect and improve their farmers with this unique software,” says David Mills, director of WeatherSafe Ltd, a UK-based organisation that analyse satellite data on weather and climate change to help farmers in developing countries.

Mills adds: “We have launched a pilot project with farmers in Rwanda to deliver solutions that cut across the board”.

“Developing countries and their fragile economies are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and are also least equipped to deal with environmental disasters when they happen. ‘Smart’ weather data will go a long way in addressing this critical issue.”

Alberto Leny, SciDev.Net.

WeatherSafe Ltd, in partnership with the France-headquartered European Space Agency, is providing a solution combining local weather monitoring, agronomic data modelling and high resolution satellite data with pinpoint accuracy to give vital weather information to farmers on areas as small as 10 square metres within their farms.

The pilot project can be replicated in other African countries, says Mills, adding that his outfit is considering scaling up the high tech to cover the tea sector as well, offering great promise to countries such as Kenya and Uganda, where tea and coffee are major foreign exchange earners.

“Rwanda values the use of ICTs [information and communication technologies] to help farmers to produce more and in an efficient, closely monitored manner.  Accurate weather data is vital to achieving this goal and farmers are already realising the benefits of such services,” says Mary Rucibigango, coordinator of Rwanda

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