‘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.
A fast paced question and answer session with Chinedu Okonkwo, software engineer.
What do you work on at Esoko?
I work on the API (Application Programing Interface) of Esoko. The back end of the application. I mostly code in PHP & PL/SQL.
What led you to software development?
First and foremost, I’ve always had an interest in creating things–programming and computing let you make things happen in real time and you can see them happen right in front of you. I can bring things to life this way. It also feeds a hero’s complex….I’m hoping that what I make can solve some of the problems I see around me.
Does it matter if software is made in Africa or in the West? What’s the difference?
I believe that there are cultural dynamics between Africa and the West that are largely different. One example of this is that African culture is more passive, so your software has to assume that and be the active part for it to be effective. Esoko fits into this with with price alerts and bulk SMS – ‘push’ elements are super important. Reaching out to a user instead of a user reaching into the system.
We as Africans tend to go our of our ways sometimes to just copy the West, and it’s much more interesting to use the same coding languages as the West but built things here, according to local needs.