After a chance meeting with a representative of the African-based organization AGRA, or the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Brown started looking for ways to get satellite data to farmers and distributors through the mFarms platform. mFarms provides agricultural information via cell phones to their network 80,000 farmers and thousands of other distributors, warehouses and more in 17 African countries.
Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa consists mostly of small farms, said Matieyedou Konlambigue, program officer with AGRA. The mFarms platform connects farmers with marketing agents and buyers, creating a database of how many acres farmers plant, tracking the productivity of fields and more. With NASA satellite data, the program can expand to include growing conditions for specific locations, and notifications of potential weather-related problems.
"The collaboration with NASA will be revolutionary," Konlambigue wrote in an email. "The geo-physical data will be processed into useful information and channeled through [mobile devices] to agricultural value chain actors in order to improve their planning and decision making."
To make this happen, Brown recruited Goddard's Science Data Processing branch to work with mFarms and reach their network of farmers and distributors. Two projects already under development with Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds could help with the effort, said Tom Flatley, the branch head. One, called LabNotes, is an app for mobile devices that connects to a data-gathering instrument. LabNotes can both send commands to the instrument, and log and compile the data it receives. The second project is
|Contact: Kate Ramsayer|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center