November 14, 2022
This week at COP27 the global community of experts have come together to discuss solutions to address climate change with a key focus on climate adaptation for the developing world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture. It is imperative to make farmers the center point for development of climate adaptation tools. Sprout is partnering with TomorrowNow (Press Release) to scale digital weather advisory services (DWAS) to millions of farmers through its network of partners over the next 5 years. The two organizations are committing to drive productivity and resilience of farmers across the continent as part of the AIM for climate innovation Sprint.
As the first step in this commitment, Sprout has launched its digital weather advisory services (DWAS) pilot, powered by next-generation weather intelligence data from Tomorrow.io. The goal of this pilot is to test and refine how farmer friendly, accurate weather advisories can enable smallholder farmers to adapt to radically changing climate patterns. Sprout’s DWAS provides digital, hyperlocal weather forecasts to farmer facing organizations (FFOs) who provide products and services to farmers across Kenya. To get forecasts, FFOs upload data to the Sprout platform that includes GPS locations of their farmer groups and/or individual farmers. They can then generate individualized weather forecasts on demand for all of their farmers/groups at once. Sprout takes real-time forecast data from the Tomorrow.io API and converts it into a simplified, SMS- and farmer-friendly 7-day forecast in English and Kiswahili. The FFO can download this important and perishable data via the Sprout website or API, and make it available to each of their groups or farmers for data-driven decision making through their regular communications channels like SMS and WhatsApp groups. Sprout launched a DWAS pilot in October with four FFOs.
There’s enough empirical evidence that access to reliable and actionable information enhances farmers’ ability to improve their yields and build resilience. The Kenya Meteorological Department recently published a report for this rainy season predicting poor distribution of rainfall, impacting farming patterns and this holds true for other countries in the region as well. With this challenge, it is critical to provide timely information to farmers to enable them to adjust their farming techniques. With DWAS, farmers will get actionable information that includes:
When will the rains be conducive for planting? Sufficient rainfall leads to better seed germination.
When should the farmer deploy fertilizer? Rain causes leaching issues that can render the fertilizer ineffective.
When to harvest with minimum post harvest losses? Farmers should harvest potatoes in dry weather to minimize rotting of tubers..
When to go to sell/market produce? Heavy rainfall makes roads impassable and escalates the cost of transport. A forecast of the dry period could favor go-to-market activities where poor road infrastructure exists.
Ensuring that farmers have access to this and other relevant information is precisely why the Sprout platform was launched. Sprout now distributes over 80 crop and allied value chain datasets that cut across such topics as climate change, regenerative agriculture and financial literacy. You can explore the Sprout platform here Here’s a quick demo to help you navigate the platform.
It is well known that agriculture capacity building provides critical support to farmers that struggle with new challenges posed by climate change and changing socio-economic environments. The Sprout team has worked with expert institutions to develop, acquire and host content that enables farmers to be more climate conscious, build their resilience and increase their yields. We’re also extremely encouraged by farmer facing organizations’ (FFOs) faith in us to use the content on Sprout to inform and deepen their engagement with their community of farmers with about 7 Million messages sent to 1.7 million farmers to date.