“Niche” is a project that aims to optimize crop variety placement in Sub-Saharan Africa, led by Regrow Ag with NASA Harvest, One Acre Fund, and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln as key implementation partners. The project, which has been awarded a $5M, 4-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will bring together several key agriculture and climate tech partners to build an assessment framework and digital tools that will:
The framework, based on integration of remote sensing with crop modeling, will help seed developers understand the yield potential of certain cropping environments, given our changing climate and its anticipated effects on sub-Saharan Africa. The program will also optimize placement for specific crop varieties, based on the past performance of similar hybrid types. The project goal is to help seed developers in Sub-Saharan Africa establish more climate-adaptive crops, which are region-specific, and give supply chain distribution partners and producers insight into optimal placement for those varieties.
Regrow is leading the project with support from NASA Harvest, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and an African-based nonprofit organization called One Acre Fund. NASA Harvest will support Regrow in crop and yield mapping, and The University of Nebraska - Lincoln’s contribution to Global Yield Gap Atlas will bring to the project the knowledge of characterisation of sub-Saharan crop production environments. One Acre Fund will provide on-the-ground insights, data and analysis. With this information, Regrow will integrate the data into an analytical framework built around Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) hosted on the company’s crop analytics platform, FluroSense.
The resulting program, called Niche, is intended to provide breeders, seed companies and advisories with information to optimize seed development and placement in Sub-Saharan African countries. This will allow users to develop climatically adaptive seed varieties more precisely, and rapidly, thereby improving crop resilience in the face of changing weather conditions and other stressors related to climate change.
Data from the project will also be made available in open-access datasets in accordance with FAIR data practices to enable and enhance sustainable agriculture.
This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.