Caritas Czech Republic and Big Terra have introduced a new and simple mobile app to help Zambian farmers better resist climate change through the timely provision of data concerning the weather and their crops.
Introduced at an online workshop attended by farmers and representatives of municipalities and ministries in the Czech Republic and Zambia, the Terra Crop Zambia app provides weather information and other data valuable for the farming of small farmers and larger local agricultural cooperatives. The app was created in cooperation with the Czech European Space Agency incubated start-up Big Terra within the AgriBusiness for LIFE project funded by the Czech Development Agency.
More efficient agriculture and better resilience to climate change
In Zambia, agriculture plays an important role and the livelihood of a large part of the population depends on it. However, climate change is bringing even more uncertainty to this already unpredictable sector. The Terra Crop Zambia app aims to contribute to more efficient agriculture and better resilience of Zambian farmers to the effects of climate change.
"We want to support sustainable farming around the world by providing customized information to farmers in various locations,” says Big Terra founder Pavel Jurus about the motivation to develop an application for Zambian farmers. “The information is based on satellite data, weather and climate models, crop modelling and local data. The result is a service tailored to local needs, contributing to the resilience of local farmers to climate change.”
The Terra Crop Zambia app contains information about the weather, suitable crops for the current period and procedures for increasing the profitability of production. Farmers will receive tips on how to adapt to weather conditions that are changing due to the influence of climate change, and how to ensure that the methods they use lead to long-term sustainable results. The application helps farmers, for example, to properly plan sowing, crop care and harvesting, to avoid losses caused by grasshoppers and other pests, floods or drought. The application also allows users to share important information from local authorities, experts, NGOs or the private sector.
The application was developed in collaboration with three agricultural cooperatives in Zambia, namely Katongo from Mongu, Kalale from Nkeyema and Twapenga Multi-Purpose Cooperative from Mumbwa district. The Terra Crop App is now available for further development and use by local partners. The application is accessible to Android users.
"Local farmers are interested in understanding the weather conditions so that they know what crops to grow and when. So far, 20 farmers have tried the application during the pilot phase, and according to them, the application is user-friendly and they are very satisfied with it,” says Mutinta Shandele, project coordinator at Caritas Czech Republic in Zambia. By the end of the project, the application should be used by up to 50 percent of farmers from 22 cooperatives (more than 400 members) with whom Caritas cooperates within this project.
How does Caritas Czech Republic help farmers in Zambia?
Caritas Czech Republic has its largest mission in Zambia with almost 200 employees. It has been working in Zambia since 2013, helping local farmers increase the profitability of production, teaching them efficient farming methods and focusing on agricultural innovation.
The Agribusiness for LIFE project (Life, Innovation, Food & Empowerment), within which the Terra Crop App was created, supports 22 local agricultural cooperatives and 125 individual farmers in 5 Zambian regions - Mongu, Limulunga, Kaoma, Nkeyema districts in the Western Province and the area around the city of Mumbwa in the Central Province. The project started in July 2018 and is funded by the Czech Development Agency. Support is provided for the development of small and medium-sized cooperatives assisting them with building their financial literacy and providing them with vocational training.
At the same time, local farmers are assisted with delivering their products to market. Zambia's Lima Links start-up has been a key partner for this push, providing a digital platform that allows farmers to access local markets and market information, including crop prices The Agribusiness for LIFE project also sees cooperation with the Czech University of Life Science, the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and the afore-mentioned ESA-BIC Czech start-up Big Terra.
Photo credit: Michal Gálik, Jiří Pasz