Land, soil and crop information systems support climate-smart agriculture in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia

Published on
January 11, 2023

‘When browsing policies on agricultural development and climate change in East Africa one is likely to find in there the principle of people having a right to agricultural related information on weather, climate etcetera, that can support them to make better decisions’, says Frank van Weert, expert at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and program leader of Land Soil and Crop Information Services. Frank observes: ‘Additionally, one would find principles on governmental organisations being organised such that they are best responsive to societal needs. The proposed Land Soil and Crop Information Services Hubs are a joint initiative bringing substance to these principles.’

The project aims to understand the existing information systems, in order to build and operate Land, Soil and Crop Information Service Hubs (LSC Hubs) in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. The LSC Hubs will play an essential role in the collection, sharing and valorisation of climate, soil, land and crop related data for climate-smart agriculture in these countries. As a starter, the program works on the data valorisation of two climate-related uses cases: soil fertility management and land and water conservation.

Hubs for climate-relevant data, information and knowledge

The LSC Hubs will service stakeholders on two levels. Firstly, to nationally operating organisations like governmental departments, development partners and private sector organisations e.g. investment banks and insurance companies. Secondly, the LSC Hubs will consolidate and provide their information services to organisations working on a more local level, like farmers’ cooperatives, extension offices and local authorities. With this information, organisations can become more responsive to the adaptation needs of farmers. The hubs are assumed to form strong building blocks in the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Co-creation to develop LSC Hubs

The LSC Hubs are being designed and co-created with the support of inter-disciplinary teams of AKIS experts, national and international knowledge partners, hub users and the National Agricultural Research Centers (NARCs) who will host the hubs. Information and capacity needs assessments were carried out among relevant stakeholders in Kenya and Rwanda in second half of 2022 and will be carried out in early 2023 in Ethiopia. These assessments inform the design of the hubs including its ICT structures and organisational requirements as well its financial and overall sustainability. Subsequent and constant testing of the hubs’ services with the organisations at national and local level will create feedback for hub improvement and create joint learning on how organisations can best share and make use of climate related data and information within the AKIS.

Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) is responsible for the project management. Addtionally, WCDI contributes to the embedding of the LSC Hubs in the hosting organisations and in the wider institutional settings and will further promote the importance of information services in the AKIS-es of Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Consortium of partners

This initiative is carried out by a consortium of partners consisting of Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation and Wageningen Environmental Research of WUR, ISRIC World Soil Information and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in close cooperation with the NARCs in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia respectively the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and with support of IUCN, ICRAF, ASARECA and DLR. The project falls under the DeSIRA initiative of the EU and is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ISRIC. It runs from 2021 until end of 2024.