To guarantee future crop yields and food security, maize seeds and plants should be protected. PHOTO Supplied.
NAIROBI – Kenyan researchers have formed a team to spearhead the establishment of open data to generate information and services for smallholder farmers in agriculture and nutrition. 

"Open data will provide advice and warning to farmers to enable them take precautions and avoid making unnecessary losses," said Joseph Mureithi, deputy director general in charge of livestock at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), during the launch of the team in Nairobi on Wednesday. 

Mureithi noted that making data more open, easily available and accessible accelerates innovation and generates economic and social benefits. He added that openly available weather data could provide farmers with early warnings against adverse farming conditions. 

The group that is composed of agricultural researchers, information, communication and technology (ICT) experts, weathermen and Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), plans to integrate weather data and agricultural research data using ICT tools and techniques. 

According to Boniface Akuku, ICT director at KALRO, limited technical capacities of data producers, data managers and data consumers have hindered effective generation and utilization of data products and services in the country. 

Akuku said that Kenya currently has rudimentary weather data and agricultural research data that do not provide well informed agronomic advisories to farmers. He observed that even though a lot of agricultural information, agricultural statistics and weather information are produced and provided, they are not downscaled for on-farm application. 

"The information therefore cannot sufficiently meet the aggregate demand that the farmers require from the resource," he added. Akuku observed that the proposed open data will incorporate adequate skills and ICT platforms to analyze large amounts of open data on crop, pasture, soil and climate. 

XINHUA