Forecasting, Farming and Food

Often when reporting back on projects we’ve funded, we summarise a nicely edited report from our grantee. The reports are useful and provide us with a wealth of information on what works or doesn’t. But sometimes that means we don’t get to hear from the people on the ground – the farmers, patients or health workers who are the intended beneficiaries of our funding. Weather forecasting company, Ignitia, have gone some way to redress that by providing us with the testimonies of farmers using their service. The quotes below gives a flavour of some of the benefits and recipients of their services. To read more about the original grant we awarded them, have a look at this blog post.

Alhassan: “The forecast helped me a lot. I remember  one day I went out in the morning heading towards the field for spraying, upon receiving the forecast telling me high chance of rain morning time, I stopped and soon there was a very heavy storm, and thus I was saved from losing good amount of Cedis.”

Salifu: “There was a day I scheduled with other farmers to weed on a demonstration field, and on that day because the weather was so clear we could not imagine it  raining that day so we were already on our way to the farm when I received a message saying ‘today = rain likely’ so I asked my colleagues to change the plan for the day. It was very difficult convincing them, but they finally agreed. At the later hours of the day the clouds start forming, low and behold the rain starts  and was very heavy, there was no doubt that the weed would have grown again the very next day after it had rained. By not weeding that day I saved about 50 Ghana Cedis.

Regina: “The message has really helped because people are now more cautious in drying their seeds and spraying.  Even going to the farm sometimes it is helpful.  There are times when I had to tell my other co-farmers if it will rain so that they also protect their crops and seeds.  We no longer rush to go for our seeds when it is going to rain.  I do show my message to my friends so that they will also not loose their products.  I am grateful to the message.”

Stephen: “The message has helped so much because there had been several instances when I was in the farm and received the message and I had to run and make sure that my cocoa seeds are protected from the rain.  I have also received the message which has stopped me from spraying my farm.  If I hadn’t received the message I would have gone and the fuel, pesticides and labour would have been wasted.  With the little I have seen or experience so far I can say it has helped a lot.”

These are, of course, a sample of the comments Ignitia collected. And the project itself was not without challenges, including delays in launching, limited promotional efforts and working with mobile companies. The good news, however, was that they were able to reach thousands of farmers with their forecasts and boast a very low drop-out rate, indicating farmers see genuine value in the service they are receiving. The service will be fully launched later this year in time for the beginning of the rainy season.