An NCF project in Burkina Faso improves small-scale farmer resilience to climate change by providing highly accurate, localised weather forecasts delivered via SMS for smallholders.
More than 90% of land farmed in Sub-Saharan Africa relies on rain as the primary source of water for agriculture. Farmers depend on predictable rainy and dry seasons to best plan their farming activities, from land preparation and sowing of seeds to fertiliser application, harvesting and storage of crops. However, the once-predictable rainfall patterns are undergoing significant changes due to climate change and pose great risks to yields and food security in the region.
Improving resilience to these changing conditions is essential for small-scale farmers and accurate weather forecasts can contribute substantially. The project’s goal is to empower the local farmers’ intelligent decision-making by providing this data and allowing the smallholders to stabilise their operations, mitigate risks and maximise profits.
Over the course of the last two years, Ignitia has prioritised improving access to its high-accuracy weather forecasts to smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. After engaging in private sector partnerships in 2019 that enabled more than 5,000 smallholder farmers to receive daily weather forecasts via SMS, Ignitia looked towards 2020 to significantly increase the availability of their weather forecasts via a partnership with Orange Burkina Faso, one of the largest mobile network operators in the country. On 23 June 2020, Ignitia and Orange Burkina Faso officially launched a subscription service to daily weather forecasts as a product called Iska, produced by Ignitia.
Iska is a high-accuracy weather forecast delivered daily via SMS to paid subscribers. Each forecast provides users with the likelihood of rainfall for the next 48 hours, empowering smallholder farmers and other end users to confidently plan their activities and mitigate the potentially harmful effects of either rainfall or a lack of rainfall. Farmers in Burkina Faso have reported the forecasts as particularly beneficial when it comes to applying fertiliser to their crops by reducing loss and improving nutrient uptake, reducing their costs, and improving yields.
As of 1 February 2021, more than 150,000 individuals have already subscribed to and paid for Iska weather forecasts via Orange Burkina Faso’s subscription service. Far surpassing their initial goals, Ignitia and Orange Burkina Faso are incredibly excited about these results and the potential for additional growth and strengthening of this customer base through continuous improvement of the service to meet the needs of end users, ultimately empowering more smallholders in Burkina Faso to plan their activities more effectively, enhance their farming efficiency, and improve their livelihoods.