Weather forecasts for sesame farmers

Climate change is impacting on global food production. The risks of crop failure due to climate change-induced weather variability are highest in small-scale agriculture, which is often rain-fed. On the positive side, mobile phones and other new communication technologies offer great opportunities to digitalize agricultural services, especially in remote places. Weather and climate information services are also improving thanks to the widespread availability of satellite data, while web-interfaces, APIs and other IT technology enable easy dissemination of this information.

The Geodata 4 Agriculture and Water project CommonSense has resulted (amongst other achievement) in a successful weather forecasting service for small scale Ethiopian farmers. The service is very well received on the ground by the farmers with >90% of the farmers rating the rainfall information as accurate. Sesame Business Network (SBN) finances continuation of the service over 2019 and 2020 to 10.000 sesame farmers in the Tigray and Ahmara regions. Sesame is a crop that is sensitive to weather variability; the annual yield is influenced by local weather, especially rainfall amounts and wind. Knowledge on coming weeks’ weather can help small scale farmers to plan their farm activities and address weather related risks.

The services in this project are established as a public-private partnership of Ethiopian and Dutch partners. Weather Impact is project lead and responsible for continuation of the dissemination of weather forecast tot 10 000 farmers and other users to support climate smart agriculture. The weather forecasts are based on the weather forecasting product of the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia (NMA). National Meteorological and Hydrological Services play an essential role in the partner chain of weather services. They are the mandated institution and need to be at the core of the service development. We believe that public-private partnerships have the potential to empower these institutions to take on this challenging task.

The service is supported by the Sesame Business Network, who registered their farmer network to receive the messages and held trainings, workshops and evaluations. Their user survey indicated that most of the farmers experience the information accurate or very accurate and 100% confirmed they use the rainfall forecast to plan their agricultural practices.

In September 2020, Weather Impact published a whitepaper on the lessons learned in this project.

More news about our weather services in Ethiopa:


The CommonSense project in Ethiopia targets smallholder farmers in different regions in the country, directly or through actors across their value chain including unions, cooperatives, microfinance institutions (MFIs) and extension services. By providing them with actionable information based on earth observations, geographic and other data, the project aims to strengthen these value chains and eventually improve their livelihoods and food security. CommonSense develops a platform of specialized information services such as unions’ management systems (including dashboards for seasonal monitoring, output marketing and members’ management), a weather forecast SMS service for smallholders, tools for loan portfolio monitoring and risk assessment and tools in support to extension services.

The Ethiopian Government, in particular the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MOALR) and the National Meteorology Agency (NMA) are interested in improving the quality of their extension services through better short and medium term weather forecasts and better agro-meteo advisory. CommonSense supports such activities piloting a demonstrator, the ‘AgroMeteo Advisory Support Tool’, at both the federal and local levels.

The CommonSense services are integrated with others (e.g. the eVoucher system, the MFIs management information systems) to strengthen their value proposition for the users. For the government applications CommonSense is exploring other solutions, compatible with the present regulatory framework, including public and donor funding. CommonSense is a project funded by the Geodata for Agriculture and Water Facility (G4AW) from the Netherlands Space Office.

More news about CommonSense:


Design of an automated Agro-meteorological advisory system

Weather Impact, in partnership with the National Meteorological Agency Ethiopia (NMA), Wageningen Environmental Research (WEnR) and Apposit was assigned by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) to design of an automated Agro-meteorological Advisory generation system. This system allows for generation and communication of user specific Woreda level agrometeorology advisory services for small holder farmers, including a feedback system. The system should support governmental organisations (e.g. Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research, Regional Agricultural Research Institutes), Development Agents and Technical Task Forces with optimized decision support for climate smart agriculture. The system incorporates data and information on climate, weather, soils, crop (varieties) and livestock. The automated advisory system will be developed by the end of 2020. It is implemented in a phased approach to support more than 12 governmental organisations at federal and regional level, technical task forces and development agents. This is expected to impact over 6 million farmers.

Services provided by Weather Impact within the assignment:

Location of this project