Putting Rainfall and Weather Data into Farmers’ Hands
aWhere and Global Development Analytics (GDA) are working to make agricultural meteorological information available and accessible across the value chain, with funding from the Gates Foundation.
In Ghana, the data is used by the information service Esoko, which pushes weather forecasts, climate-smart agricultural tips and market prices to over 20,000 farmers per week by SMS messages. It is backed up by a call centre staffed with agronomists who have access to detailed weather visualizations specific to the caller’s location. “The weather forecasts helped me plan better to take advantage of the rainy season,” comments Nibe-Ib Besane, a farmer from the Lawra District in Ghana.
The iShamba SMS and call centre service also uses aWhere and GDA weather data to provide information to 300,000 registered farmers in Kenya.
This information allows farmers to better plan for planting, input and treatment applications – making farmers more resilient to climate change. The next phase is to time agronomic tips and recommendations with weather and growth stage models. For example, a weeding recommendation can be pushed at stage two of a farmer’s maize plant growth, calculated from their planting date. This increases the effectiveness of these tips and recommendations, as they are more likely to reach farmers at the right time in their cropping season.
To encourage more innovation in this area, aWhere and GDA have been organizing “hackathons” in Africa and South Asia, allowing participants to access aWhere’s weather data. These events bring together local developers, researchers, seed suppliers, buyers, retailers and other agriculture value chain organizations to develop more ways to utilize this data effectively.
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