Earth-i & WeatherSafe Provide Insight from Satellites to Burundi Coffee Growers

Earth-i, the innovative British distributor of Earth Observation imagery and services, has teamed up with Harwell-based WeatherSafe - leaders in the application of big data analytics to meet agricultural challenges - to support the coffee farmers of Burundi through Earth-i’s ACCORD programme.

ACCORD combines very high resolution satellite imagery with crop analysis to provide stakeholders with critical insights on key coffee farming decisions to improve crop quality , thereby supporting sustainable growth for coffee farmers large and small.

staggering thirty percent of Burundi’s population depends upon coffee production as their primary source of income. So any increase in the yield and quality of this crop will have a marked effect upon the nation’s GDP and help drive economic development throughout the country.

Given that current yields are only about a fifth of those seen in Asia and Central America, there is significant scope to improve productivity if threats such as coffee leaf rust and parasites can be successfully contained.

In partnership with the World Bank and the International Development Fund, the Government of Burundi has launched a programme for the Productivity and Development of Agricultural Markets (PRODEMA), which aims to “improve food security through increased production and improved market access for agricultural and livestock products important for domestic consumption”.

To assist PRODEMA in meeting the goals of its coffee sector support project, Earth-i and WeatherSafe will fulfil a number of vital functions. These include combining satellite imagery – such as that provided by the British built DMC3 satellites – with algorithms to automatically identify coffee plantation plots from satellite imagery, as well as extracting key features such as roads and coffee washing stations and provide an estimation of the number of trees.

Earth-i and WeatherSafe will conduct analysis to estimate the yields of those farms. All of this information will be provided through a geo-referenced database.

Local ground surveys will validate the results, which are expected to provide real insights to the Burundi coffee industry, with the stated aim of helping to improve the competitiveness of the coffee industry in Burundi.

Commenting on the project award, CEO of Earth-i Richard Blain said; “We are delighted to have been awarded this important project with our partners at WeatherSafe. The combination of our technologies will provide a powerful new capability to the coffee farmers in Burundi, and a perfect example of how data from space can make a real difference to people’s lives".