Farmers across six Sub-Saharan African countries can now increase their yields thanks to a new mobile app predicting rainfall and indicating optimum fertilizing and harvesting times.
The app, created by Ignitia — a tropical weather forecast tech company, uses the information and communication technology (ICT) weather forecasting model, through which GPS-specific forecasts are produced. Ignitia’s innovation boasts an 84 percent weather prediction rate; a remarkable advancement, considering traditional global weather models predict weather at less than half the accuracy.
“It is one of the first forecasting systems to produce highly accurate weather predictions for the tropics,” says Lizzie Merrill, project manager at Ignitia. “Traditional global weather models have only been able to predict weather with 39 percent accuracy – not good enough for a population of three billion people, up to 80 percent of whom are small-scale farmers.”
The app gained 80,000 subscribers since it launched six months ago. One user, Enoch Addo, a cocoa farmer from Ghana, told SciDev.net: “Using the forecasts more than doubled my yield last year. I normally collect 10-15 bags of cocoa, but last year, because I was able to spray fertiliser and pesticide at the right times, I was able to collect more than 30 bags of cocoa.”
Addo could potentially save up to 3,300 Ghanaian cedis ($830 USD) over the course of the season.
Image: Flickr/AUSAID SOUTH AFRICA
Ignitia promotes the app as a catalyst for empowering women farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa. “In this way, our direct-to-mobile strategy is useful in lowering barriers to tech adoption for women,” Merrill said.
Constance Ankomah, a subscriber from Ghana, insists that even illiteracy can not preclude women from using the app, noting that a few of her friends simply ask for help with deciphering the information from their children or people from their village.
Ignitia’s innovative app is currently being used in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, and thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the Securing Water for Food Challenge, the app is expected to expand into West Africa.
The weather forecasting innovation also earned a second-place prize at the United States Agency for International Development and partners’ first Agricultural Innovation Investment Summit in June, winning a $5,000 prize.
This article was originally published on Global Citizen.