Weather Impact celebrates to be part of two successful project consortia in the third call of the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) Facility. The Netherlands Space Office announced in February to have selected six project out of 27 proposals being submitted. The G4AW programme aims to improve food security in developing countries by using satellite data and geo-information. The facility is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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For a language lover, Africa is the continent to travel. Language barriers do often not coincide with country borders and the variety is huge. Ethiopia knows 80 different languages, the click consonants in the Khoisan languages in Southern Africa are world famous and Swahili is spoken in 9 different African countries.
The year 2017 was the second warmest year since the start of measurements around 1880, and the warmest year without El Niño effect. Losses caused by extreme weather events broke all records. The overall losses due to natural catastrophes were estimated to be $330bn, of which $267bn (81%) was caused by meteorological catastrophies.
The new year prospects for new chances in African small-scale agribusiness. The Weather Impact team celebrated the end of the year 2017 in Ethiopia. Together with Wageningen Environmental Research, a workshop on agro-meteo services for small-scale Ethiopian farmers was organised. We came together with 20 Ethiopian meteorological and agronomical experts, to discuss the best methods and partnerships for a reliable and financially sustainable service in Ethiopia. It was decided that the mobile text message with a localized weather forecast, provided in 3 indigenous languages, will be continued in 2018 with at least a doubled number of users.
Weather Impact is doing an assessment of the climate of the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Goal of the assessment is to analyse the suitability of the area to cultivate Oil Palm (Elaeis Guineensis). Oil palm is a humid, tropical crop; it thrives best in areas with minimum temperatures above 20°C and an annual rainfall of more than 1800 mm, preferably equally spread over the year. The Congo Basin one of the three largest convective rainfall regions on the planet, under researched because of a severe lack of meteorological observations over the basin. Nevertheless, with support of satellite data and reanalysis datasets it is possible to get a view on local climate and its variability over time. Based on our data, value-adding maps are developed to inform about the suitability of certain areas to cultivate Oil Palm.
One of the main problems for Ethiopian sesame farmers is a general lack of reliable weather forecasts. The lack of forecasting information becomes more and more challenging for the sesame farmers as the variability in weather increases, which results in an unpredictable and highly variable sesame yield. To address this challenge, Weather Impact provides local weather forecasts in two local languages direct to the sesame farmers. This activity is part of the CommonSense project, and to be able to send the weather forecasts, we work closely together with the Benefit-Sesame Business Network (SBN), Apposit and the Ethiopian National Meteorology Agency (NMA). In a pilot study, 1500 farmers received a weather forecast by SMS twice a week. With the help of our weather information, sesame farmers and agricultural professionals are able to strengthen their resilience to weather variability.
For agricultural practices it is very convenient to be able to anticipate on the coming seasons’ weather. Especially in Africa, where most of agriculture is rain-fed, it is very helpful to know in advance if it will be a relatively wet or dry season, so farmers can choose the optimal crop or variety. Forecasting the weather on seasonal timescales is more difficult than forecasting the next few days. One of the reasons for this is that seasonal patterns depend on the status of the global climate system, including the oceans. An example of a well-known seasonal pattern is the El Niño phenomenon. El Niño is an event of unusual warming of the Equatorial Eastern Pacific Ocean in December and it has effects on the weather around the globe, especially on rainfall patterns in the tropics. El Niño is the warm phase of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The opposite of El Niño is called a La Niña, which describes a cooling in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The Netherlands Consortium on Climate Change Adaptation is a broad coalition of Dutch knowledge centres, dedicated to providing multisectoral, integrated, practical knowledge and expertise on climate change adaptation. Take a look at the website of this initiative, or read the article in Volkskrant (Dutch). Weather Impact is associated partner in the CCCA initiative.
The World Bank launched a global call to find big data solutions that addressed issues in the critical challenge of Food security and nutrition. The goal was to help better understand the impacts of climate change and positively influences decisions by using big data effectively. Weather Impact has taken up this challenge and created the innovate Banana Network. With our application we are recognized as Honorable Mention Winner by the World Bank.
Watch here our new video-pitch about CropMon. The CropMon service in Kenya provides local information on weather forecasts, current crop growth and farm management practices. Weather Impact delivers tailored weather forecasts and monitors current weather conditions. Farmers receive text messages with weather forecasts and farming advice on a regular basis. In addition, innovative smartphone- and web applications are developed for farmer organisations and other stakeholders.