‘I would have lost a total of 7 acres of various commodities, mostly maize, but for the timely weather advice I received from Esoko. All my peers who went in to plant without the information have lost all their crops due to the unpredictable rains.”
-Abdul-Rahman Inusah, Kanponyili, Northern Ghana
Every farmer needs rain, but even rain at the wrong time can destroy harvests, waste pesticides and seeds, and leave farmers without money – or options. With increasing inconsistencies in weather patterns, climate advisory services are becoming a necessity in rural agricultural communities.
Esoko started many years ago building the technology that allowed organizations to send their farmers relevant prices over SMS. Though delivering prices remains a key component of our platform, we’ve learned from farmers about these more sophisticated content needs – content that will help with their production, not just their marketing. That content is focussed on localized diseases, inputs, and of course, weather.
For now, farmers’ weather information needs appear relatively simple. From our surveying, 90% of farmers are concerned with one piece of information – if it’s going to rain or not. Temperatures, cloudiness and wind conditions are of little interest – but knowing when it will rain allows them to plan planting, application of fertilizer and drying of produce.
To share relevant weather data with farmers you need two things: their location and the localized (and accurate!) forecast. With our Web/Android profiling tools, organizations can add GIS coordinates along with name, commodities, etc. for each farmer. To get content, we’re partnering with aWhere, using their Location Intelligence Platform. When we need weather for a farmer, our system talks to theirs (or for you techies, sends an API call). We then sift through the response, focussing on the most important part of the forecast – i.e. will it rain or not?
Over 5,000 farmers like Abdul are receiving weather information through the USAID/Esoko Farmer First Program alone, with projects in Benin and Kenya getting started. If you’re an agribusiness or project in Africa interested in profiling your farmers and setting them up to receive weather information via SMS, please contact us.