Africa’s economy greatly relies on agriculture, mostly carried out by smallholder farmers. Recently, smallholder farmers have increased in numbers gradually bringing about improved overall food security in Africa. Farmers in rural areas are however vulnerable to weather changes that can adversely affect their crops. Lack of access to weather source information and underequipped weather stations that fail to accurately provide weather data have continued to affect crop yields for these farmers. Large-scale farmers also know that weather represents the greatest opportunity or risk in the agriculture sector. Weather plays a central role in the lifecycle of each crop.

Advancement in technology has enabled fusion of deep historic climate and weather data with field-specific crop data turning anticipations into predictions. Studies have shown that if relevant mobile phone services are made available to smallholder farmers it could double the potential to help raise millions out of poverty and address the projected food gaps. Kukua, a weather data and forecasting services initiative, observe that farmers who receive weather forecasts with corresponding agronomic advice have increased their income by between 10-82 per cent. When farmers are equipped with the right information to prepare for events, they can increase productivity and prevent food shortages.

Weather application for farmers

According to Michael Koenig, an application developer specializing in applications for agriculture at ScoutPro, access to historical data will provide growers with information on area-specific conditions. This knowledge can inform future decision making, reduce risk and increase yields. To cope with climate change challenges rendering traditional weather knowledge obsolete, weather applications have eased access to historical and forecast weather information tuned for agriculture, in turn, boosting crop yields.

Need for local weather forecast

It has been observed that climate change is increasing the unpredictability of weather patterns resulting in farming losses. Deep historical weather against vegetation data tells the story of changing exposures, and risks to many crops worldwide. Using regional crop data tied to historic weather conditions improves our ability to predict the next season’s yield. Local weather stations have been designed to use the latest technology, big data, and smart partnerships to leverage on the use of internet and frugal innovations suited to the African environment to provide accurate weather data. Timely and appropriate climate and weather data plays a critical role in development, helping to better manage climate risks and maximize opportunities, particularly in Africa’s agriculture.