News and knowhow for farmers

Kenya’s first observation satellite to help improve agricultural output 

FszdgdpXwAEMsCJBy George Munene

Kenya’s launch of its first earth observation satellite tomorrow (Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at 9:44 am Kenyan time) is expected to enhance the collection of data on agriculture, vegetation cover, research, and disaster management.

“The 32-meter multispectral and 16m panchromatic camera mounted on the satellite will enable Kenya to collect data on current crop yields and predictions and also assist in analysing vegetation in order to ascertain whether crops are withering or growing in optimal conditions. With such valuable information, farmers can adjust their farming practices and take measures to increase productivity, ultimately improving food security in the country,” explained KSA’s Lead Ground Communications Engineer Hope Deche. 

The team that developed the satellite expects its benefits to filter down to your everyday farmer so that more Kenyans can realise the importance of aerospace engineering and be interested in the field.

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“The satellite can detect changes in agricultural farm produce and vegetation, monitor the infrastructural development of cities, and map the country. By monitoring farm inputs and yield changes over different seasons, farmers will adopt the best farming practices suited for Kenya’s unique conditions,” said Pattern Odhiambo, associate satellite engineer, SayariLabs.

The nanosatellite christened Taifa-1 which will hover over Kenya once every four days for three to four years at a height of 550 kilometers gathering data will also greatly reduce the country’s spend on data collection which is bought from other countries at a steep price. 

The project which has been in the works for two years was realised through a partnership between Kenyan aerospace research and development company SayariLabs who designed and engineered the satellite with EnduroSat– a Bulgaria-based company– in charge of its final development.

Taifa-1 will be launched from Florida, USA, as Kenya also lacks a local launch service provider. The satellite’s data will be sent to a receiving station currently under construction in Kasarani. 

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“The images collected will be useful for decision support in environmental monitoring, climate change monitoring and mitigation, food security through crop condition monitoring and crop yield estimation, disaster management, and natural resources management, among others,” said Kenya Space Agency (KSA) director general Brigadier Hillary Kipkosgey.

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