Sustainable Agriculture Pegged on Utilization of Remote Sensing

Dr. Abebe Chukalla of IHE Delft shows a participant how to use the WaPOR portal.

Climate change has become an existential concern across the globe as stakeholders race to put measures in place to address the issue, Agricultural specialists are urging a greater emphasis on remote sensing.

The specialists believe remote sensing will be crucial in leveraging data on areas of production, crop damage, plant population, mapping out viable arable places and ensuring efficient water management.

Remote sensing is the practice of detecting and monitoring an area’s physical features from a distance by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation. Images captured by satellite can assist a researcher or farmer in identifying nutritional shortages, illnesses, water lack or surplus, and weed infestations among other parameters.

While remote sensing has several advantages such as collecting information across large geographical regions, and monitoring on a systematic basis, lack of requisite skills by Agricultural practitioners in internalizing data means data does not deliver the desired impact on the ground.

With this information, JKUAT Knowledge Hub with the support of IHE Delft (the Netherlands institute for water education), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Kenya, under the WaPOR Phase 2 project, organized a training between 24 – 27 October 2023 dubbed; WaPOR database: Applications and Uses.

The workshop sought to provide agricultural production specialists with critical skills in the application of remote sensing and geoinformatics in agriculture, aimed at improving the seamless transmission of knowledge and expertise amongst key stakeholders in the agriculture sector.

Chair, GEGIS Department, Dr. Mercy Mwaniki gives her remarks during the training.

The training will equip participants with the Quantum Geographic Information System (QGIS) software and its plugins, as well as how to measure seasonal irrigation performance indicators using QGIS and the WaPOR database.

Emphasizing the importance of the training in matters of ensuring sustainable food production and agricultural water management, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Ngumi noted that the expansion of agriculture is threatened due to intensive withdrawals of available groundwater, particularly for irrigated agriculture.

“Improved agricultural water management practices are required not just to improve food security but also to alleviate the burden of water shortage. Water production is increased when more water-efficient irrigation is used, and water is saved for other purposes,” Prof. Ngumi stated in a speech read on her behalf by the Principal, College of Pure and Applied Sciences (COPAS), Prof. George Thiongo.

Prof. Ngumi said, the program, which is aligned with JKUAT’s vision and mission, would provide participants with hands-on experience using satellite data on the FAO portal (WaPOR) to estimate land and water productivity. This, she added, will guarantee the university’s continued performance of its role in generating specialists for a dynamic world.

The Vice Chancellor commended the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FAO, and IHE Delft for supporting the training, and urged the participants to apply the skills gained by offering solutions to agricultural water management and policy.

According to Dr. Abebe Chukalla, a Senior Lecturer in the Land and Water Management Department at IHE Delft, teaching skills to agricultural practitioners is key in ensuring knowledge trickles down to the grassroots level for impact.

“We need to establish an African center that will tailor-make African-focused solutions and address issues through African-led thinking approach,” Dr. Chukalla observed.

The event was also addressed by Principal, COETEC, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu, Dean, School of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering (SCEGE), Dr. Eng. Charles Kabubo and Chair, Geomatic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems (GEGIS), Dr. Mercy Mwaniki.

Remote Sensing Training for Sustainable Agriculture.

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