Delivering Economic Resilience to Farmers with Weather Insights
Topic at the Digital Disruption in Agriculture Forum
Addis Ababa, May 15 -16, 2019
How is digital technology transforming agriculture? We see tremendous change in the way big data analytics (such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence) is helping large commercial farmers, but how about smallholder farmers in countries like Ethiopia? This was the topic of the forum which aWhere contributed their insights on the role of weather data to help farmers navigate the increased weather extremes associated with climate change.
aWhere’s co-founder and CEO, John Corbett, asked the audience of 150 agriculture experts the following questions:
1) Are text messages affordable and effective in exchanging information with farmers? ALL agreed.
2) Do farmers in advanced economies have free access to weather forecasts? ALL hands went up.
3) Studies show that simply providing farmers with a weather forecast improves productivity by over 10%. Most hands went up in agreement.
Economics of resilience using weather data:
An ICT expert from the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (E-ATA) provided an update on their farmer (8028) hotline that offers information to 4.2 million farmers (out of 15 million farmers in Ethiopia -half of whom have cell phones). Based on the farmers’ location, recommendations are made to increase their productivity and profitability. If these farmers were equipped with local weather data, the value of production would likely increase by over 10% for the average farm of 0.5 Ha that earns about 8000 birr (about $300 USD) per cropping season or $600USD per Ha according to experts in Ethiopia. With a 10% increase in productivity with weather insights this translates to an additional $60 per season or a potential net benefit of $126 million over 4.2 million farmers ATA is supporting through its hotline.
Thanks to new technology platforms, weather information and insights can now be sent for under 0.02 birr or one US cent if ten alerts were sent at key times over the growing season this would cost $420,000 to realize the estimated value addition in production of $126 million or a return on investment of 300:1 – what a great investment!
Localized, accurate weather can support farmers with alerts on when to plant, warnings and recommendations for pest and disease control and even optimal times to harvest to maximize profits – all key insights to manage risk, increase profits, and use sustainable crop production practices.
Weather variability is very real and it impacts farmers – globally. Have a look for yourself using aWhere’s free web resources and offer your suggestions on how we can use these data to deliver economic resilience to farmers as they adapt to climate change.