ignitia, a tropical weather forecasting company, has over the years been supporting tropical farmers across the globe with climate intelligence solutions.
The company aims at helping to address the problem of low accuracy weather forecasts in tropical regions with its atmospheric physics-based numerical predictions; the company delivers hyper-local forecasts that are twice as accurate as global models.
They provide crop-specific climate-smart advisory, co-designed with food system stakeholders and delivered via SMS, WhatsApp, smartphone apps, web and APIs sent across a range of different time-scales – ranging from 48h rainfall forecasts to monthly and seasonal predictions without requiring expensive, hard to maintain weather stations.
During a maize demonstration field visit at Obawale and Sodjonu in the Yilo Krobo district of Eastern Region, Kwabena Frimpong, Regional Director-Africa, ignitia, elaborated that their collaboration with small-scale farmers in Ghana and West Africa dates back to 2015.
According to him, the primary goal has been to furnish farmers with dependable SMS forecasts, thereby mitigating risks and minimising losses in their various communities.
“We are based in Ghana, but have expanded into Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo and Nigeria, among others. Because our weather model is dependent on satellite data, our ability to expand is not hindered by the high costs of creating on-ground infrastructure; this means expansion into new tropical areas is easier.
“Climate change poses a significant threat to food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in tropical regions, with weather performance worse than tossing a coin and more than 96 percent of cultivated land being rain-fed.
“This is why I am excited that we have been able to establish two different demonstration farms in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where our SMS services are being tested to confirm with farmers our technology is really the world’s first and most accurate tropical weather forecasting company – with over 84 percent reliability,” he said.
Municipal Agric Officer in charge of extension-Department of Agriculture, Dr. Francis Nii Clottey Odonkor mentioned that the demonstration farms are encouraging farmers to embrace this great innovation introduced by ignitia.
“This tool enables us to give more frequent and district-level predictions of rainfall, dryness and drought, which helps us to provide advanced warning of rains or dry days to our farmers in the various communities.
“Their service has been tailored for the primary sector, and they have collaborated with farmers and growers over the last two years to ensure it provides useful information.
“It’s helping farmers and growers to prepare in advance ahead of planting, or spraying pesticides on their crops.
“All this while we were looking for a more accurate medium-term forecast that would enable us to make proactive decisions all the time.
“Having as much information as we can around something uncontrollable, which is the weather, is really helpful in the farming business,” he said.
Business Advisor with ignitia Ghana, Miranda Osei Agyemang, explained how ignitia’s services are helping farmers in these critical times.
“ignitia offers farmers an affordable SMS service that is costing the farmer just 20 Ghana pesewas a day.
“One of the significant advantages of our SMS weather alert system is the provision of real-time weather updates; instead of relying on outdated forecasts, our users receive up-to-date information directly on their mobile device – and they do not need Internet connectivity or smart phones, which makes them accessible to a wider audience even in rural communities.
“This enables them to stay informed about rapidly changing weather conditions and adjust their plans accordingly.
“ignitia empowers farmers to sustainably grow and improve yield, income and family livelihoods by enabling better decision-making for their farming activities, while promoting regenerative agriculture,” she added.
Agric Extension Agent with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, stationed at Abrewankor and Nkurakan Operational Area, Ernest Amanor-Larbi explained that farmers in these communities have received training on how to use the SMS services.
“Our farmers have learnt how to make decisions based on the information received, and they understand the uncertainties.
“ignitia’s SMS weather alert service has come to play a vital role in enhancing safety and preparedness at our community level.
“We are now receiving timely weather alerts; individuals can take necessary precautions and make informed decisions to protect themselves and their farms.
“Traditional methods of weather alerts, such as radio or television broadcasts, may not always reach us in a timely manner; and that is why I am excited about ignitia’s SMS weather alert service for my farmers,” he added.
The over-60 farmers who joined in the field visit to have a look at the demonstration farm were grateful to ignitia Ghana for introducing this new SMS weather alert service to them and their Agriculture extension officers in the Yilo Krobo district.
“We are excited that this SMS weather alert service delivers real-time weather updates and emergency notifications directly to our mobile phones via text messages, which is very easy for us farmers to read and understand, based on your location and preferences.
“We have learnt in our training that users can select the type of alerts they wish to receive; such as severe weather warnings, temperature fluctuations or air quality alerts.
“This customisation ensures that individuals receive alerts relevant to their specific location and interests,” said 2022 Best farmer for Yilo Krobo John Kwame Mautsuemi, and Regina Nartey Atta, a maize farmer in the Obawale community.