Fall Armyworm (FAW) is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. It prefers maize but can feed on more than 80 additional species of plants. It has a voracious appetite, reproduces and spreads quickly, given the right environmental conditions. FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and has spread across most of sub-Saharan Africa in a staggering speed. Millions of hectares of maize, most in the hands of smallholder farmers, have been infested and the crop pest poses a significant threat to food security, income and livelihoods. According to an evidence note published by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) in September 2017, unless proper control measures are implemented, the pest could cause maize yield losses estimated between 3.6 and 6.2 billion dollar per year across the 12 major African maize producing countries.
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On 28 May 2018 the monsoon officially started in Yangon, Myanmar. At this same date, the project MyVAS4Agri was launched by the project partners all present in Myanmar. According to Burmese traditions, this will bring fortune and luck to our project.
For the G4AW project CropMon in Kenya, regular feedback reports are delivered by our project partners. In the latest SMS feedback survey 178 farmers were interviewed in April 2018 for the period April-December 2017. The results were quite positive. On average, 95 % of the respondents indicated that the weather forecast that they received through SMS was correct. In addition, the weather forecast was used by some of the farmers to plan management practices. Whether they used the weather forecast strongly depended on the type of crop they were growing. It ranged from 24% for coffee growers to 87% for sugar cane farmers. On average 91% of the farmers states that they think the advice given by the CropMon consortium was useful and between 80-100% of the farmers witnessed an improvement in their crop growth. Weather Impact continues to monitor farmers feedback in 2018 and the results are used to further improve our messages.
Last week three meteorologists from the Ethiopian National Meteorological Agency (NMA) visited The Netherlands for the G4AW CommonSense project. In this project, smallholder farmers in Ethiopia are provided with information services, such as weather forecasts, to help them make better informed decisions on farming activities. As mobile internet and smartphones are not widespread across the rural Ethiopian population, they receive a daily weather forecast by SMS.
Food security for Africa is an urgent global challenge. The main cause of food insecurity is inadequate food production. New weather services are key to produce food more efficiently and of higher quality. On March 22nd 2018 Weather Impact hosted a seminar to join leading experts from the fields of meteorology, hydrology and African agriculture. The seminar, named “Weather-information services for successful local agriculture in Africa” gave a platform to professionals at the forefront of science and practise. They addressed crucial opportunities and challenges of achieving successful local agriculture in African countries. In the “open space” workshop that followed to the plenary speakers, we discussed practical challenges, opportunities and solutions to improve local agricultural productivity in African countries. Due to the large variety in the expertises of the participants and their active contributions we are looking back to a very succesful day. The results of the discussions will be summarized and will become available via the seminar web-page. Read more ›
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.
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.