In the week from 17 – 21 September, the 4th annual partner meeting of the G4AW project CropMon took place in Eldoret, Kenya. The goal of CropMon (Crop Monitoring Service) is to provide Kenyan farmers information to enhance their crop growth. The information service – both weather information and information about the status of the crop – is provided via SMS to farmers. In the project four Kenyan partners -Cereal Growers Association, Coffee Management, Equity Group Foundation and Sugar Research Institute- cooperate with Dutch partners AgroCares, NEO and Weather Impact and Turkish partner Springg. CropMon provides two types of services:
1. the basic service, in which only weather information is provided for the area around the field;
2. the full service, in which very specific information of the crop status in the monitored field is provided as well.
Weather Impact is responsible for making an accurate weakly weather forecast message for all associated farmers.
The goal of the annual partner meeting was to update all partners about the progress of the project and to plan the work for the upcoming year. Furthermore, a couple of farm visits were done to see how the CropMon service are received in the field. Farmers were able to exchange some experiences with all partners. Farmers were very positive about the weather forecasts as it gives them the ability to plan agricultural activities such as ploughing and application of top dressing. However, the farmers would be very interested to also receive weather forecast on a longer (i.e. seasonal) time scale. With the seasonal forecasts, a farmer would for instance be able to choose a different variety of maize if a shorter rain season is forecasted. In the next year, Weather Impact will investigate the possibility to deliver these forecasts in a short and comprehensive way to the farmers.
Since the project has entered the last year of the subsidy phase, a good working business plan needs to be prepared. To investigate the interest of potential stakeholders, visits were done to Equity Bank and Kibos sugar factory to explain how CropMon could help them and to discuss a possible collaboration. Part of the business plan is the growth in number of registrations . For the end of August 2019, the goal is set to have 30.000 farmers registered for the full service and 150.000 farmers registered for the basic service of CropMon.
The partner meeting was an inspiring week, with a lot of testimonials from farmers that were happy to receive the CropMon services. The meeting also gave new momentum to all partners to work extra hard to improve the services and enhance the number of registrations. Let’s make it to the 150.000 registrations!