Weather SMS to help over 300,000 farmers in planning

More than 300,000 farmers would soon have a sure way of planning production calendars after the conclusion of an ongoing weather prediction pilot project in the Western and Rift Valley.

Western Wiser would reach out to famers through short message services, SMS. The farmers would get updates of weekly weather patterns, which will inform their decisions on farm operations.

Calistas Wachana of the Kenya Meteorological Department said, the UK supported project would help subscribed farmers schedule when to plant, apply fertiliser and other agro-chemicals, harvest, among other activities.

The trial is ongoing in Kisumu, Kakamega, Siaya and Trans Nzoia.

Kenya remains food insecure because of adverse weather conditions such as drought and flooding, which affect production from the field, transportation, up to storage and markets.

This has perennially made the country an importer of maize, the local staple food, to cover deficits.

Flooding sweeps crops in the fields while promoting germination of others, more-so grains.

With the alerts from the SMS, timely harvest would prevent loses accumulating from poor transport, rotting, and germination.

A prediction of drought would be a warning to farmers against planting, effectively saving them farm input losses. They will know when it will be the best time to plant or plan on alternative corps that are drought resistant.

More than 80 per cent of agro-producers in Kenya are small-scale; and they lose more than 40 per cent of harvest to adverse weather.

The UK-supported project is being done in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Meteorological Department.