aWhere™ Supports Partners of the Americas & 100,000 Strong in the Americas Projects - Dr. O’Neill, New Mexico State University
Oct 20, 2015
aWhere Inc. currently supports the students, researchers and faculty associated with the University of La Salle’s Utopía Project, by providing free access to weather data, part of the Weather aWhere™ platform. Via this platform, students and faculty have access to valuable, daily historical, real-time and forecast weather and agronomic data. This partnership with La Salle University has been fostered through a close relationship aWhere has with Dr. Mick O’Neill of the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University.
The Utopía project is a unique educational concept established by the University of La Salle – Bogotá, Colombia, which integrates agricultural, educational, and productive opportunities for resource-limited young people – men and women from rural areas of Colombia – who have been traumatized by violence during 20-30 years of drug wars.
The aim of the project is to convert these severely disadvantaged students with little educational foundations into community leaders capable of catalyzing social, political and productive transformation in their local communities which then is disseminated throughout the country to reinvent the agricultural sector of Colombia. The goal is to achieve a sustainable agricultural transformation through participatory research and appropriate technology utilization (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/ERP/uni/UT-en.pdf).
In March 2014, La Salle requested NMSU to join them in developing a project proposal for submission to Partners of the Americas (www.partners.net), a private sector organization which carries out multi-year projects in the Western Hemisphere, and which in association with the White House has sponsored the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative (www.100kstrongamericas.org). The proposal was developed as a faculty and student exchange program that incorporates an irrigation system design component for the Utopía satellite campus in Yopal, Colombia. In June 2014, NMSU received the announcement that the La Salle – NMSU consortium was awarded the project (NMSU Wins Partners in the Americas Grant).
A faculty/student exchange team from the NMSU Plant and Environmental Sciences Department went to Colombia in November 2014 for two weeks of classes and cultural exchange programs at the University of La Salle’s campuses in Yopal and Bogotá. During this visit, a select number of faculty and graduate students was instructed in the use of the Weather aWhere platform by O’Neill and began using the platform mainly to acquire weather data for research in the areas of grass and forage growth dynamics, implementation of seasonal calving models in ruminants, silvo-pastoral systems, and ecosystems resiliency.
“This is fantastic news for strengthening the partnership that we have started to cement through the Partners of the Americas and the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiatives.” (Mick O’Neill, NMSU).
With access to the aWhere platform and Colombia weather data, in particular, available to Utopiá students and the La Salle Agricultural Sciences Department, faculty can expand their use of weather data beyond just research, now integrating the platform and data into education and classroom instruction.
Prof. Jorge Triana Valenzuela of La Salle University commented “The platform has been extremely useful to acquire retrospective data for decision-making and climatic pattern analysis. Climatic data in Colombia are very limited, even though a few in-country organizations/institutions have access to good information, most of the time it is not available via internet web searches. We have validated that the info provided by the aWhere platform is very accurate and very user friendly.”
One of the NMSU students, Sativa Cruz, who participated in the Partners of the Americas exchange to the Utopía project, was recently awarded a grant through the NM Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) to initiate the setup of the irrigation system designed by the NMSU faculty participants. Cruz will go to Yopal in early 2016 to install the drip irrigation system in an agroforestry research field. She is using Weather aWhere to access site-specific historical weather data in order to develop resilient water management strategies for cacao grown in the agroforestry project.
“Bringing this project to realization enables development of water management techniques via drip irrigation design, facilitates international collaboration, and entices young agricultural leaders through proactive knowledge transfer” (Sativa Cruz, NMSU environmental sciences student).
aWhere (www.awhere.com) closes the information gap in agriculture and global development through innovative, timely, and locally relevant solutions.
“. With increased variability in the weather having a growing impact across the agricultural value chain, access to accurate, local observed and forecast weather is becoming more and more important for food security and farmer sustainable economic health” (John Corbett, CEO–aWhere Inc).