DeKUT receives a grant of Ksh.500,000 from the Kenya Space Agency for the Development of Small Scale Crop Mapping Satellite
The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) is a State Corporation that promotes, coordinates and regulates space-related activities in Kenya. Since 2020, the KSA has been implementing Research Chair (RC) programs in Kenyan universities to contribute towards Kenya’s socio-economic development by promoting capacity building and linkages between academia and the space industry. The Agency has been keen on building this legacy by encouraging and offering support to public universities.
In regard to this, we were privileged to be among the five universities that received a grant of Kshs.500,000 from the Kenya Space Agency to develop a Small Scale Crop Mapping satellite that uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The ceremony, which was held on Tuesday, November 16th 2021, at the Movenpick Hotel Nairobi, was led by Dr. Kuria Thiongo, among other members from the Institute of Geomatics, GIS and Remote Sensing (IGGReS) and the Centre of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DSAIL).
Small-scale crop mapping using Space data is one of the most effective ways of estimating the crop area, crop yields and assessing the food security situation in the country. This can be achieved by processing and analyzing Remote sensing data. This data, however, requires high processing techniques with complex mathematical processes. The field of AI/ML uses data and algorithms to imitate how humans learn, gradually improving the accuracy of the results. The primary focus of AI/ML is to extract information from data by computational and statistical methods. Over the last decade, there has been considerable progress in developing an AI/ML methodology for various Earth Observation applications.
The processes of Small-scale crop mapping can be incorporated to build an application with a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that users can use either with expertise or those with little expertise in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing fields. This would be important to policymakers with no background in GIS and remote sensing to generate products and derive statistics from different application areas. This can be achieved by the use of Google Earth Engine or other platforms with the same capabilities.
The object of this second research on Small-Scale Crop Mapping is to leverage earth observation and remote sensing services to develop an application that maps crops under small-scale farming, which account for approximately 78% of total agricultural production and 70% of commercial production in Kenya,” said Col. Hillary Kipkosgey, KSA Acting Director-General.