By Mekonnen Teshome
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) is holding a three-day kick-off meeting in Ethiopia to launch Digital Earth-Africa (DE-Africa) project on Information for Agriculture and Food Security.
The project advocates for use of satellite imagery in addressing food security in the continent.
According to ASARECA Head of Programs, Moses Odeke, the association has organized the meeting with the objective of raising awareness among these stakeholders about DE-Africa products and services and engaging them in a consultative process.
He noted that the initiative has been implemented in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Botswana, Ethiopia, and South Africa.
Odeke also pointed out that the major expectations of the meeting are achieving strong future partnerships among participating stakeholders, better awareness and uptake of the Digital Earth Africa platform and tools, strengthening capacities of ASARECA partner organizations in competencies utilizing earth observation tools and services offered by DE Africa as well as improved support for Africa’s agricultural sector.
Digital Earth-Africa Capacity Development Lead Dr. Kenneth Mubea also on his part indicated that his organization is optimistic that strong partnership and collaboration would be achieved in the region as these stakeholders are coming together in using Earth observation tools and technologies.
Dr. Mubea said that DE-Africa would do everything it can to provide reliable and operational service to enable policymakers, scientists, the private sector and civil society to address agricultural productivity, environmental and economic changes on the African continent and ensure an ecosystem for innovation and creativity as well.
DE-Africa will be responsive to the information needs, challenges and priorities of African and it will do its own effort to empower and build the capacity of partners so as to enable their use of Earth observations and address major development challenges.
Dr. Tolessa Debebe, representing the Director General of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Dr. Feto Esimo Berisso also expressed his conviction that the meeting will strengthen the desired partnership and pull off towards the set objectives.
Apart from establishing, participants of the meeting are expected to hold a deep dive meeting with users of satellite data, products, and services within the agricultural sector to identify user needs and strengthen their capacity to access and use earth observation data in their day-to-day activities.
The meeting brings together participants from the Ministry of water, natural resources, and environment (wildlife, forestry), National Agricultural Research Institutes, National Space Agencies, the Department of Meteorology, the Department of Climate Change, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Bureau of Statistics, Universities, Private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), CGIAR centers, UN organizations and Private Sector Companies in Ethiopia also aims at building a shared understanding of the vision of the Digital Earth-Africa project to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the project activities.