Public private engagement for agro-meteo service delivery in Ethiopia

Published on 15 September 2020 by Tamara Lancel

For the fifth year in a row, the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia and Weather Impact are collaborating to provide localized weather forecasts to almost 10,000 farmers in Ethiopia via their mobile phones. This public-private partnership for agro-meteorological services is sustained by Benefit-Sesame Business Network.

Starting in 2017 with 3500 farmers, location specific weather forecast information is sent twice per week in SMS to a targeted group of sesame farmers, woreda[1] experts and agricultural researchers. In 2020, the amount of beneficiaries of the service is grown to almost 10,000. The information is provided in local language (Amharic or Tigrigna). Farmers are registered for the service by field support staff and agronomists from the implementation partner Sesame Business Network. The SMS text contains information on rain probability and amount; average, maximum and minimum temperature and wind speed for the next three days and a rainfall likelihood up to seven days ahead. To disseminate the localized forecasts, a full partner value chain is in place:

The partnership focuses on capacity development and training, to further institutionalize this kind of services within the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia. This year, the workshop takes place via Zoom and focuses on using the programming language “Python” for data analytics and data quality control.

Within a couple of weeks we’ll share our publication “Agro-Weather Services in Public-Private cooperation – lessons learned in Ethiopia’s sesame production area”. Here is a sneak preview: National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are an essential partner in the partner-chain of weather services. They are the mandated institution and should be at the core of the service development. Yet in Africa, most of these institutes lack the capacity and financial resources to do so. We believe that public-private partnerships hold the potential to empower these institutions take up this challenging task.

In 2019 and 2020, this public-private-partnership was facilitated by Benefit-Sesame Business Network. Benefit is the bilateral partnership between The Netherlands and Ethiopia to strengthen sustainable agricultural production, markets and trade and enabling institutional environment for the agricultural sector. The partnership was originally developed and piloted in 2016-2018 under the scope of the CommonSense project, a “Geodata 4 Agriculture and Water” project that was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the Netherlands Space Office.

[1] Woreda is an indication of the districts (third-level administrative divisions) in Ethiopia

Ethiopian coffee ceremony during capacity development workshop with NMA, Wageningen Environmental Research and Weather Impact (pre-covid-19). 

Foto: Dirk Jan Bulens, Wageningen Environmental research, June 2017