Agribyte: KAOP, the free KALRO Weather app
Did you know you can forecast daily weather like rainfall or droughts accurately in Kenya on your phone? The daily weather forecasts from the meteorologists’ department are given for the major towns like Eldoret, Bomet or Meru over radio and TV every morning. In remote areas, people observe the known historical weather patterns like cloud cover. If you are looking for more accurate forecasts for your current location, you can pay for a weather forecasting service like an open weather map. But it may be costly for you. The Kenya Agricultural Observatory Platform (KAOP) weather app, is a cheaper and reliable solution for you.
The free weather forecasting app is an invention by the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). This computer-based decision support tool uses 6,756 virtual weather stations. You can get weather information in an area of 9 by 9 km square arrays for your selected ward or location. Besides weather information, it can predict long-term rainfall patterns for specific locations. There are plans for the weather toll to give pest and disease forecasts for crops and livestock.
Farmers and herders rely on weather news to plan on high crop and animal yields. A slight change in the predicted pattern can throw your cropping and grazing plans awry. In worst-case scenarios, crop failure and animal losses are inevitable to unexpected droughts or floods in your area.
How KALRO Weather App works
KAOP will help its users in three areas; Weather forecast, Agronomic advisory and Analytics.
You can access your current location weather like rainfall or temperature and wind on the Kalro weather app. It shows you the real-time, past, and future weather forecasts. To access the data, select your county, constituency, and ward names.
It will show you can know the expected precipitation forecasts in the amount of rainfall and probability chances for the next seven days. You will also access the historical precipitation records for the last 30 days. It also shows the highest and lowest temperatures for each day for a period of 2 weeks. You can print or download the information as an image, CSV file or PDF on your phone.
Agronomic Advisory & Agricultural Insights
As a KAOP user, you will get quality, agronomic advice. Farmers can monitor and predict their farm situation to make better farming decisions.
It provides a P/PET index showing the estimated soil moisture for your region. Besides, you get information for crops and livestock management.
For instance, if your farm has a faced a long-term dry spell and soil moisture is deficient, crop farmers are encouraged to plant climate-smart crops and varieties. These can be drought and heat tolerant, disease resistant, early maturing and nutrient-rich. Ranchers and pastoralists in water-stressed wards are to preserve water and grazing fields if the weather is dry for long. They also have to vaccinate and deworm their animals to reduce any loss.
How to use the KALRO weather app
There are many advantages of weather forecasting for people in agriculture and farmer commodity markets. Farmers, ranchers and food traders can use the KAOP weather app in the following ways;
- Make informed cropping and grazing plans on when to plant or harvest their crops.
- Plan and execute daily and weekly farm activities that depend on weather such as fertilizer application, pesticide spraying and weeding.
- Make emergency decisions for animal health (bug spraying), crop irrigation and protection (irrigation scheduling, freeze protection)
- Plan for transport, demand and supply farm products and inputs in times of severe weather (lightning, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms)
- Disaster management and preparedness such as planning for the evacuation of farm attendants and livestock if they expect floods
Using KAOP will improve the farmers’ productivity and food security crop. As part of the climate change mitigation measure, it will improve the players’ preparedness and knowledge in all livestock and crop value chains in Kenya.
KAOP is available online and on an android app. It was launched by the KALRO in July 2020. It is championed by the Kenya climate-smart agriculture project (KCSAP) and the World Bank. Other partners are the Kenya Meteorological Department and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation.