June 5, 2019
Why are farmers in many parts of the world not benefiting from ICT? Some of the responses included lack of access to relevant data to guide decisions and technologies suited to the needs of smallholder farmers who dominate food production in most parts of the developing world.
While ICT offers considerable promise, the group of 200 experts from industry, NGOs, and donors expressed concern that in the absence of good data, the potential of ICT will not be realized. Key data inputs include weather, market pricing, and soil health along with agronomy knowledge to increase production. Agriculture is a weather-driven sector and yet farmers in most parts of the developing world do not have access to high quality weather data to inform the timing of farm operations such as when to plant, apply fertilizer, and harvest the crop to optimize production and quality of their harvest.
aWhere’s Chief Science Officer, David Bergvinson, presented on the power of localized weather data to deliver economic resilience against climate change. Timely and accurate weather data can empower farmers and agriculture value chain actors to make better decisions to increase productivity and profitability by persevering harvest quality and reduce risk associated with increased weather variability. aWhere has launched new interactive weather surfaces on it’s Apps Portal that cover most of Africa and two global commodities of tremendous economic importance – coffee and cocoa. These resources ensure that every farmer globally is only 6 km from a virtual weather station to provide a coordinated response to climate change. The example below shows coffee production areas of Central America where rainfall in the coming week is above (blue) or below (orange and red) long-term normal which will impact coffee production and quality. This information can help farmers, coffee cooperatives, processors, and retailers offer a symmetrical response to ensure a predictable supply of high quality coffee – globally.
The group agreed that a data ecosystem is required to unlock the potential of ICT along with public–private partnerships and a commitment to make this real before the ICT4Ag in 2020. An example of this is the provision of weather data to farmers globally to drive crop models, production alerts, and insights to empower farmers to navigate weather variability, which is causing a deviation from traditional planting and harvest dates, and to inform government policies and investments to adapt to climate change. Challenges to overcome include data governance to ensure the responsible use of farmer data, integration of different key data resources like weather, soils, and market prices, and means of farmers connecting to these resources through simple mobile phones. aWhere is already delivering on this call to action by providing weather data to farmers through a wide range of commercial and public clients at aWhere.com.