ESDS Program

NASA Earth Science Data Products for AGRA Farmer Management and Agro-Input Cell Phone Systems

Principal Investigator (PI): Molly Brown, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

One of the most immediate and obvious impacts of climate change and weather variability is on the weather-sensitive agriculture sector. These impacts will occur at both local and global scales affecting trends in rainfall and temperature, and ecological resilience, while increasing need for ecosystem services such as fresh water provision and cycling of nutrient waste. In addition there are likely to be changes in economic context with increasing volatility of international commodity prices, which is potentially the most important factor in the ability of humanity to meet its growing food needs. The most vulnerable and food insecure regions of the world such as the Horn of East Africa need locally relevant information products and tools that can reduce the risk posed by food production shortages while enabling productivity increases to meet the needs of a growing population.

This project combines information technology and remote sensing expertise to provide a distributed and platform-independent way for farmers and traders in Africa to access NASA remote sensing satellite data and products that can be used to improve their knowledge of crop and market conditions. Responding to A36 section 1.2.3: Innovative Technologies and Tools we bring together existing communities in applied science programs and information technology to significantly expand the access cell phone users in Africa have to NASA's Earth science information. Our primary partner in this effort is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an Africa based organization working in partnership with governments, agricultural research organizations, farmers, private sector, civil society and other rural development stakeholders to significantly and sustainably improve the productivity and incomes of resource poor farmers in Africa.

Decades of investment in vegetation, rainfall and crop modeling systems by NASA has created focused satellite-remote sensing derived products useful for monitoring African agriculture. These products are currently only available via the internet and require significant connectivity and knowledge to find and access appropriate NASA and other relevant agricultural datasets. In this project, Goddard personnel with information technology programming expertise will interface with experts with remote sensing and modeling experience to develop 1) simple text messaging of weather conditions and probability of crop failure information for user-input locations, 2) create a online website that can provide weather and probability of crop failure information using images and time series, and 3) an application for both iPhone and Android that will provide text, image and time series satellite-derived farmer information. This new system will be named NASA-mFarms.

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