Raphaël R. Luhahe [Research Engineer- ICube/ Université de Strasbourg] demonstrates ICube’s technology.

The partnership officially kicked-off with a workshop October 8-12, 2018 at Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, (NM-AIST) Arusha, Tanzania. Presentations from NASA Harvest, ICube, WISE- Futures, Makerere University’s WIMEA project, iTEC from NM-AIST covering expertise and capacities of partners, review of challenges to be address to ensure sustainability of new systems from MoA, a demo of new hi-tech communication sensors and visits of existing field stations belonging to the MoA and to the Pangani River Basin office were carried out.

Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Tanzania is working to improve agricultural decision making and have been working with the University of Maryland since 2014 to use remote sensing data and information to report on crop conditions using the Tanzania GEOGLAM Crop Monitor System and the Global Agriculture Monitoring (GLAM East Africa) system. Agriculture in Tanzania is largely rainfed. Agrometeorological parameters such as rainfall, air, and soil temperature and humidity which influence crop growth and conditions have to be monitored locally especially in remote (rural) areas to ensure timely and appropriate information delivery to decision makers.  However, MoA has not been receiving data from it’s 600+ manual stations across the country for about 7 years now. The system as it was designed relied on observers collecting data and sending it on written cards that were mailed every 10 days and at the end of the month. Some stations were reported vandalized and other stations for many complex reasons have not been reporting.

In the framework of the new NASA Harvest Program, the University of Maryland is coordinating a pilot project to design and prototype sustainable agro-meteorological sensors networks. NASA Harvest and project partners ICube (France), WISE-Futures (Tanzania) and MoA are elaborating a concept to develop prototypes working with MoA to automate agromet data acquisition, processing and use within MoA through high-tech solutions combining IoT, cloud processing of Big Data to improve remote sensing based models for crop conditions monitoring inevitably improving agricultural decision making. A main feature of the concept is to ensure local capacity with Tanzania (starting with students at Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha) to build the systems, a cornerstone to sustainability in the long run. If realized, the concept would address the problems associated with of agro-meteorological data acquisition. WISE-Futures students will be involved in the mapping of some stations, the development, and testing suitable agro-meteorological equipment in Tanzania.

Welcome by  Dr. Hans Komakech [Center Director, The centre for Water Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy Futures (WISE-Futures) at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST)], NASA Harvest Partner Dr. Catherine Nakalembe [Assistant Research Professor, Department of Geographical Sciences – University of Maryland], presented an overview of the concept and introduced UMD’s work on Agriculture Monitoring in Eastern Africa under the NASA Harvest Program. NASA Harvest is a new multidisciplinary Consortium commissioned by NASA and led by the University of Maryland to enhance the use of satellite data in decision making related to food security and agriculture domestically and globally. NASA Harvest’s goals include increased food security and resiliency, reduced price volatility and vulnerability, and improved awareness and understanding of the applications of NASA’s and other satellite data products by users from a wide range of sectors. NASA Harvest is partnering top researchers, humanitarian aid organizations, economists, policymakers, agribusiness, the financial sector, defense, intelligence, high tech, and other disciplines and sectors to accomplish these goals.Read More..