Project to Enhance Tea Management in the Country

Ms. Chepkoech

As human population grows rapidly and food security becomes a worrying concern globally, adoption of technology in agriculture is inevitable. Leveraging on this, Geomatic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems 5th year student at JKUAT, Gladys Chepkoech has come up with a remote sensing technique to manage tea farms.

As a result of this achievement, Ms. Chepkoech is bound to present her project at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Conference in Washington, D.C., December 10-14, 2018. Labeled as the largest Earth and space science gathering in the world, the conference’s mission is to promote discovery in Earth and Space Science for the benefit of humanity.

With her project dubbed, ‘Tea Health Detection Using Object Oriented Classification in Kericho, Kenya’, Ms. Chepkoech opines that the conference gives her a golden opportunity to share her knowledge with the world, spur innovation, and interact with peers and professionals who inform decisions that are critical to the sustainability of the Earth.

Acknowledging that tea is Kenya’s second largest foreign exchange earner after horticulture, the young scientists elucidates the importance to detect the health of tea plantations for purposes of protecting its socio-economic benefits.

“Remote sensing offers an effective platform for mapping tea health due to the advanced resolution of the images in terms of both its spatial resolution (how much detail can be resolved per unit of distance) and temporal resolution (how much detail can be resolved per unit of time),” explains Ms. Chepkoech.

She however says, remote sensing of tea plantations at times suffer from spectral mixing as the farms are surrounded by similar vegetation like trees and orchids. To curb this, her project adopted an Object Oriented classification approach to extract tea plantations using Rapid-Eye imaging.

The Object Oriented classification approach helps farmers to delineate trees, healthy and unhealthy tea plantation and pruned tea. This information can be easily disseminated to farmers for interventions and decision support hence, managing and enhancing productivity of tea.

Compared to other tea management interventions such as ground monitoring, Ms. Chepkoech has confidence that her project is cost effective, covers a wide area in the shortest possible time and gives timely data for effective decision making.

She is certain that the technique used in her project can be efficient and effective for tea management by government, private sector and related stakeholder. As she awaits to graduate, November 30, 2018, Ms. Chepkoech has approached the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holding Limited (KTDA) and hopes KTDA will adopt her project for enhanced tea management especially in Kericho County where the study was domiciled.

Her supervisor, Dr. Benson Kenduiywo lauding the passion of Ms. Chepkoech says her study provides useful information for tea management which supports Sustainable Development Goal 2 that seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture. The study is also relevant to the Kenyan government initiatives on agriculture and food security on of the pillars of the big four agenda.

Ms. Chepkoech in consultation with her supervisor, Dr. Kenduiywo

On the conference, Dr. Kenduiywo says “attending the conference will give the student an opportunity to gain knowledge and new skills in earth observation and create future research and professional partnerships with global scientists.”

He also hope that the recognition of Ms. Chepkoech’s work will motivate students to undertake innovative topics in projects and specifically women to pursue STEM courses.

The convener of the conference, American Geophysical Union, is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing nearly 60,000 members in 139 countries.

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