TECH & CULTURE

JAXA puts satellite data to use for farmers in Africa

By Staff Writer
September 22, 2022
Space travel has been fascinating us for generations with thoughts of new discoveries and exploration. Often, however, it can be difficult to imagine what real-world benefits or advances will come from it, especially for people living in developing nations which don’t have their own space programs. For this reason, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been working together with developing nations to research new ways of bring real-world benefits from spaceflight to people around the world.

One way is by partnering with Japan-based tech start-up firms with the know-how to develop applications that take the massive amounts of data gathered from JAXA’s many satellites orbiting the earth, and draw out useful information that provides solutions to serious real-world problems.
A rocket being launched from Japan
Many of JAXA’s launches are for research and observation satellites that will orbit the earth
One of these partners is Tenchijin, Inc., which provides land appraisal services by using wide-area and high-resolution remote sensing data (weather information, topographical data, etc.) from an Earth observation satellite, in order to "optimize human civilization activities using information from space."

Tenchijin was tasked with developing a system to provide rainfall information to farmers by utilizing satellite data and AI-based land evaluation technology. This system to put into action over Burkina Faso in Western Africa, where over 70% of the population is involved in agriculture and access to good information about rainfall is limited. Most agriculture here is dependent on rainfall, which makes the country vulnerable to drought and flooding. If farmers could have access to some way of measuring and predicting seasonal rainfall, their crop production would be more secure.
A rice field in Burkina Faso
Rice fields in Burkina Faso are heavily dependent on rainfall
Tenchijin’s solution was to develop a mobile application to provide rainfall information to farmers, which would be tested over a period of 5 months starting from the end of 2021. By comparing the satellite measurement results against ground-based measurements, they intend to develop an application that can meet local needs more effectively. Government officials in Burkina Faso are also participating in the study and with the demonstration of solutions.

It is hoped that the experience gained here can be applied to a broader range of applications, allowing people in developing nations all around the world to benefit from these innovations. In this way, JAXA’s spaceflight know-how can deliver tangible benefits for everyone on earth.
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