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UK’s Earth-i Receives UKSA Funding for Agricultural Monitoring in Kenya and Rwanda

Artist’s impression of Earth-i’s Vivid-i Earth observation satellite. Image courtesy of Earth-i.

Earth-i, the UK-based Earth observation company, has been awarded a grant of £2.7 million from the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) International Partnership Programme, which supports UK space firms tackling global challenges.

The grant will enable Earth-i to launch the ACCORD programme in Kenya and Rwanda. ACCORD has been specifically developed to help smallholder coffee farmers in Africa improve crop quality and yield. It combines Earth-i’s very high-resolution satellite imagery with WeatherSafe’s data platform, to provide extensive crop, weather, and pest analysis, and share the information via a mobile phone app.

ACCORD will enable Kenyan and Rwandan farmers to identify where more water, fertilizer, or pesticides are needed to address unpredictable weather, pests, diseases, nutrient depletion or other factors which reduce coffee quality and quantity.

ACCORD evolved from work carried out by Earth-i and Weathersafe in Burundi. Together the two companies performed surveys of Burundi coffee farms using very high-resolution satellite data, conducted crop yield analysis, and developed bespoke web applications to deliver the results of this analysis.

The ACCORD project was one of only ten programmes to receive funding as part of a joint initiative between the UK government’s Industrial Strategy and UKSA’s International Partnership Programme, designed to exploit British space expertise to tackle real world problems across the globe.

Richard Blain, CEO of Earth-i, said, “Coffee is the second most traded commodity globally and vitally important to the economies of some of the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture is just one of a multitude of sectors where our imagery – and the insights drawn from those images – is improving lives on Earth.”

UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah said, “The UK’s space sector is going from strength to strength. It pioneers new technology and provides jobs for 40,000. Today I can announce that the space sector’s capabilities are being put to use to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.

“The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme will help developing countries tackle big issues like disaster relief and disease control, while showcasing the services and technology on offer from our leading space businesses,” he added.

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