Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) will be featured at COP21.

Saving $3.6m in drought damage with a climate-smart tool: CIAT Colombia

A recent collaboration between public (open) and private data sources is helping farmers take precautions to avoid drought damage in Colombia. Between 2007-2013 an association of farmers (National Federation of Rice Growers; Fedearroz), an international research centre (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical; CIAT) and Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture joined forces to identify the issues behind yearly reductions in rice crop yields, one of the most important food crops for the country.

Making use of both open and private data (the latter obtained from companies through special agreements), CIAT analysed large datasets from annual rice surveys, harvesting records, field experiments and weather data and identified the complex and region specific issues behind the decreasing rice crop yields. This led to the development of a climate-smart agriculture decision-making tool for the Colombian rice growers, which is openly available to anyone. The impact on the agricultural sector as well as the Colombian economy was significant. Actions informed by this data helped farmers avoid extreme damage from the drought saving an estimated $3.6m of potential economic losses.

5038156346_2a0807e400_b Harvesting rice at CIAT's headquarters in Colombia. Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

Index Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI)

To protect livestock keepers from drought-related asset losses insurance is a good coping and adaptation strategy. Open satellite-based information on crop status (NDVI) is used to assess the availability of fodder crops in dry areas of Eastern Africa for livestock farmers.

This data is combined with livestock mortality data from the Kenya Arid Lands Management project to predict livestock deaths against which livestock herders can insure themselves. This livestock insurance service is initiated by a consortium of public, private and non-profit partners.

This consortium pursued a comprehensive research agenda aimed at designing, developing and implementing market mediated index-based insurance.

josjfpamEast African farmer who has insured his herd with IBLI. Image courtesy: IBLI-ILRI

Saving crops and cash with weather simulation and smart insurance: Climate Corporation

In the past, farmers struggled with predictive climate models that failed to take into consideration local conditions, leading to inefficient risk calculations.

Climate Corporation is an open data business that offers more accurate insurance and a commercial advisory service to help farmers manage and adapt to climate change.

They do this through analysing huge volumes of data points from open and other data sources, to simulate weather events and assess risk to the yield of specific crops. The company utilises open data from sources including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA), the Next Generation Radar (a network of 159 Doppler radar stations operated by the National Weather Service), as well as maps of terrain and soil types from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Farmers can use the detailed weather forecasting data to enhance their cultivation practices and activities like spraying, fertilising and seeding. For example, using moisture and precipitation maps provided by the company, farmers can tell if a specific part of their fields is too wet to be ploughed.

On an industry level, the impact of the company’s open data-powered service could be significant. In 2013 Climate Corporation’s customers farmed more than 10 million acres.

GODAN area: Sustainable production

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