Water for agriculture in peri-urban areas in urbanizing deltas around the world is vital to safeguard food production. But urbanization and climate change have made water availability (too much, not enough, too late or early rain) erratic. As a result, small scale farmers, who are the backbone of the rural economy in developing countries, can no more rely on their own experience to plan farming operations. Additionally, local farmers have limited access to weather and climate forecasts to receive information to manage their agricultural activities. The WaterApps project, now, published a mobile application (App) combining local and scientific weather and climate information. The App is a result of the WaterApps project activities in Ghana and was developed through a business challenge with the active involvement of Water Systems and Global Change group (WSG) from Wageningen University as well as MDF West Africa and SpaceWek.
FarmerSupport is a hydro-climatic information service platform built to provide farmers in urbanizing deltas of the world location and time-specific weather information, which is tailor-made to their agricultural decisions. It helps to improve crop production and simultaneously increase adaptive capacity of the farmers.
The App incorporates Local (LFK) and Scientific Forecast Knowledge (SFK), and it combines those into a hybrid forecast within the App. The farmers are called to add their personal forecast and their assessment of the probability (low, medium, high) of rainfall and sunshine based on various key agricultural-meteorological indicators. These local and individual farmer’s forecasts are integrated into one general local forecast and delivered back to the farmers. The indicators were previously identified together with the farmers based on their needs and available knowledge. Scientific forecast information for 1-, 7- and 14-day forecasts is depicted in the App, provided through an API:URL from meteoblue weather provider. After this, the two forecasts are incorporated and a hybrid forecast is displayed.
The FarmerSupport App allows for rainfall and sunshine predictions which are often better than a purely scientific forecast. It is also built with great accessibility to make it easy for the average local farmers to use it with ease. The App is also accessible for illiterate people because it provides audio feedback to the famers in their local language. In general, the design of the App is very simple, colourful and easy to navigate.
The FarmerSupport App is currently being tested in Tamale, northern Ghana within the WAGRINNOVA project activities and we envisage to further implement and test its proof of concept soon on the field initially Bangladesh and subsequently to many other locations around the world.
Download the app here.