The Agricultural Research Council – Institute for Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-ISCW) launched its Rain4Africa App at Ukulinga Research Farm.
The launch was hosted by the uMngeni Resilience Project (URP), which is also collaborating with the Rain4Africa Team to roll out the app.
The URP is a partnership between the uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM), the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES). It aims to build the resilience of small-scale farmers in the UMDM to climate change.
An Honorary Research Fellow at UKZN, Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, welcomed guests to the event on behalf of Professor Albert Modi, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. ‘We are honoured to be part of this event,’ said Mabhaudhi. ‘The issue of improving access to climate information and services for small-scale farmers is important for improving on-farm decision making and helping farmers adapt to shifting seasons.’
AgriCloud is a mobile application for Android phones designed to provide guidance to farmers on selection of planting dates for maize and wheat for the specific location of their farm. The app also provides information regarding days on which spraying would be conducive for the subsequent three days in six-hourly intervals. An advantage is delivery of site-specific information, with an intended reach of 125 000 small-scale farmers, 50% of whom are women. The app is still in its early stages and can only provide farmers with information on maize and wheat.
‘The unique feature of the app is that it provides advisories in nine local languages, allowing farmers to get information in their mother tongue,’ said Professor Sue Walker, the Principal Researcher leading the Rain4Africa Team at the ARC-ISCW.
‘We are looking forward to partnering with Rain4Africa in rolling out the app to our farmers on the URP,’ said URP Project Manager Ms Lungi Ndlovu.
Extension officers, researchers, government officials and young farmers in attendance got a chance to download the App and try it out.
The App is available for download from the Google Play Store. Those wanting to may also use the USSD service to download the app by dialling *134*8383# and selecting the information required. Then the information will be available within 24hours, and users can request advisories on a daily basis.
For more information contact:
Professor Sue Walker (Rain4Africa) – WalkerS@arc.agric.za
Ms Lungi Ndlovu (URP) – Nomalungelo.Ndlovu@umdm.gov.za
Words and photograph: Wendy Geza