Regional Director for Africa, Kwabena Frimpong has revealed that currently, the weather is the greatest cause of yield loss for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa because agriculture is largely rain-fed.
He explained that weather causes 20 – 80% of all yield loss in Sub-Saharan Africa, in comparison to yield loss due to pests, diseases and weeds, which is estimated at 26-30%.
“Ignitia’s weather forecast tools provide farmers and agribusinesses with vital information needed to mitigate risk and create resilience in the farming business.”
The technology company is the world’s first and most accurate tropical weather forecasting company and has over 84% reliability.
“The forecast can be delivered through SMS directly to farmers, web and mobile platforms for tech-ready farmers, extension agents and agribusiness, as well as through APIs for Agtechplatforms” he said.
At an open house conference held in Tamale by ignitia Ghana Limited, dubbed “From Thunderstorm Predictions to Brainstorming Climate Smart Agriculture Solutions” stakeholders within the agricultural sector, deliberated on the utilization of weather intelligence provided by Ignitia, and its relevance to stakeholders in the era of Climate, COVID-19, and Conflicts, notably referred to as the 3Cs.
The Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in the Northern Region, Hajia Hawa Musah said farmers in the five Northern Regions are grappling with low crop yield owing to unpredictable weather patterns.
“It’s time farmers are educated on the need to farm smart and be resilient to climate variability by subscribing and paying for weather forecasting services.
Knowing when to plant, apply fertilizer, weed control and harvesting saves a lot of time and resources” she indicated.
The Chief Science Officer at Ignitia, Andreas Vallgren said farmers in Africa are often portrayed as unintelligent, but that is not the case; rather, farmers need reliable information, and access to technology in order to make more informed decisions.
He explained that farmers in his opinion know how to farm, and ignitia is simply giving farmers a tool to improve farming practices for improved yield and income.
“Weather affects industries across the globe. Each year, billions of dollars are lost due to weather variability” he revealed.
The Director of Agricultural Extension Service at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Paul Siameh said the Ministry has begun a pilot programme to support smallholder farmers with information on weather patterns in the five northern regions of Ghana.
“We are targeting about 1.7 million smallholder farmers to register them for this exercise; our aim is to help them boost their agronomic and technology expertise in the Agriculture Value Chain and be able to withstand the vagaries of climate change,” he said.
Team leader, Private Sector EU – GIZ Dr. Andrew Harberd said Agricultural businesses are experiencing first-hand the effects of our changing climate.
“Having more accurate, long-term weather tools that go far beyond what’s possible today gives farmers a critical advantage for resource planning and preparedness in the face of increasing climate disruptions; and we are excited Ignitia has introduced this tool” he added.
The Deputy Chief of Party at USAID Market System Resilience being implemented by ACDI VOCA, Cecil Osei said the adoption of climate-smart farming practices, such as the weather forecast service, carries the potential benefits of improved productivity, high income, and improved household food security for smallholder farmers.
“We are committed to promoting the sustainability of these practices and technologies to enhance resilience and adaptation to climate change.
“The high costs involved in farming, coupled with numerous constraints in production, it is imperative for farmers to adopt new ways of farming in order to make profits and build sustainable agribusiness enterprises,” he said.
A farmer in the Eastern Region of Ghana where the tool was piloted revealed that Ignitia’s tool has helped him to better plan when to plant, apply fertilizer, spray pesticide and harvest.
“About three years ago, I lost bags of fertilizer because heavy rain fell, right after I had applied fertilizer to my farm. This was despite all indications showing that there was no chance of rain.”
“I could not afford to buy any more fertilizer and that really affected my yield that year, it’s not just about me; this is what we go through as farmers every planting season.”
“Since I started using the weather alert services from Ignitia, my yield has increased significantly because I do not only apply fertilizer at the right time, but I’m also able to plan my planting, weeding, and harvesting periods as per the weather. I see up to 80% increase in my income, due to decreased risk and loss” he added.
Source: Business and Financial Times