Remote Sensing; A Critical Game-Changer in Sustainable Agriculture  

GEGIS Chair, Dr. Mercy Mwaniki gives her opening remarks at the training.

Research indicates that the coming 10-40 years will see major challenges in meeting food demand in a sustainable manner. Food demand will rise by 60% by 2050. This comes at the backdrop of increasing pressure on water quantity and quality.

Agriculture is by far the world’s largest water user and competition between water use sectors is increasing rapidly, not only in semi-arid and arid zones. This competition with industry, energy and urban development, demand more water to be ‘freed up’ from the agricultural sector. Climate change factor can also not be ignored, with extreme weather events adversely affecting the available water resources for food production.

In light of these worrying compelling facts, are there any efforts that can be made to avert an otherwise catastrophic outcome? Did you know that remote sensing can be used to make useful, easy, and accessible applications for sustainable water management in Agriculture? This was the subject of a training conducted by the WaterPIP Knowledge Hub at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), running between May 17th to 20th at the University Main Campus.

Participants are taken through the WaPOR training.

The training, coordinated by the Department of Geomatic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems (GEGIS), was based on WaPOR (Water Productivity Open-access of remote sensing derived data) portal, that allows the monitoring of agricultural water productivity at different scales. The online database was developed by United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The training brought together students and staff, mainly drawn from the College of Engineering and Technology and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as participants from the industry and government agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, FAO, Water Resources Authority, the National Drought Management Authority, the National Irrigation Authority, among others.

While officially opening the training, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, who was represented by Prof. Florence Member (Dean SoBE), encouraged faculty members and postgraduate students to intensify research in the area of agricultural water productivity, terming it a key tenet of food security which is a national concern.

“The multi-stakeholder collaboration that has made this training possible is a true testament to what can be achieved when academia comes together with industry with a shared vision. It is also worthy to note the invaluable contribution of the Netherlands-based IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, for their material and financial support towards this training. As a research institution, we remain receptive to such partnerships and collaboration through which innovative solutions are devised for everyday problems facing the society,” added Prof. Ngumi.

The training included an Introduction to Quantum GIS (QGIS) and the WaPOR portal, Introduction to Water Productivity in Agriculture, Performance indicators, Spatio-temporal analysis using Python in Cloud, spatial analysis using QGIS, among others.

The training participants in a commemorative photo on the first day of training

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