Agribyte: KAOP, the free KALRO Weather forecasting app.
Did you know you can predict rainfall or droughts accurately in Kenya?
Farmers and herders rely on pleasant weather for high crop and animal yields. A slight change in the expected weather pattern can throw their cropping and grazing plans awry. At worst-case scenarios, crop failure and animal losses are inevitable to unexpected droughts or floods in their farms.
In Kenya, you can get daily weather forecasts from the meteorological department. It is given for the major towns like Eldoret, Bomet or Meru over radio and TV. In remote areas, farmers decide by observing the known historical weather patterns. Besides, you can pay for a weather forecasting app. But this may be costly for many farmers.
The Kenya Agricultural Observatory Platform (KAOP), is a cheaper and reliable solution for farmers.
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 9X9 km square arrays for your selected ward.
Besides weather information, KAOP 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.
How KALRO Weather App works
KAOP will help its users in three areas; Weather forecast, Agronomic advisory and Analytics.
You can access real-time, past and future weather forecasts from KAOP. To access the data, select your county, constituency and ward, you will then get rainfall, temperatures and wind records for your location.
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. Its also shows the highest and lowest temperatures for each day for a fortnight. 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 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.
It was launched by 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.
KAOP is available online and on an android app.