Coproducing weather forecast information with and for smallholder farmers in Ghana : Evaluation and design principles

Gbangou, Talardia; Sarku, Rebecca; Slobbe, Erik van; Ludwig, Fulco; Kranjac-Berisavljevic, Gordana; Paparrizos, Spyridon


Many West African farmers are struggling to cope with changing weather and climatic conditions. This situation limits farmers' ability to make optimal decisions for food and income security. Developing more useful and accessible weather and climate information services (WCIS) can help small-scale farmers improve their adaptive capacity. The literature suggests that such WCIS can be achieved if forecast information is produced jointly by farmers and scientists. To test this hypothesis and derive design requirements for effective WCIS, we evaluated the outcomes of an experimental coproduction of weather forecasts in Ada, Ghana. The experiment involved a user-driven design and testing of information and communications technology (ICT)-based digital (smartphones and apps) and rainfall monitoring tools by 22 farmers. They collected data and received weather forecasts during the 2018/2019 study period. The results showed a positive evaluation of the intervention, expressed by the level of engagement, the increase in usability of the tools and understanding of forecast uncertainty, outreach capacity with other farmers, and improved daily farming decisions. The success of the intervention was attributed to the iterative design process, as well as the training, monitoring, and technical support provided. We conclude that the application of modern technology in a coproduction process with targeted training and monitoring can improve smallholder farmers' access to and use of weather and climate forecast information.