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Mobile App for Rain Forecasts Raising Farmers’ Yields

This post originally appeared on SciDev.Net.

[NAIROBI] A mobile phone-based innovation that can predict rain is helping farmers in six Sub-Saharan Africa countries sow, fertilise and harvest crops at the optimum time.

The innovation is being used in Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal to improve crop yields and optimise food production throughinformation and communication technology (ICT) weather forecasting model that produces Global Positioning System (GPS)-specific forecasts.

Mobile app for rain forecasts raising farmers’ yields. Photo Credit: Sven Torfinn / Panos

The mobile weather forecast innovation created by Sweden-based Ignitia was placed second at the United States Agency for International Development and partners’ first Agricultural Innovation Investment Summit, which was held in Washington DC in the United States last month (1-2 June), winning US$5,000 prize.

Ignitia now wants to expand into other West Africa countries using a $2.5 million grant from the Securing Water for Food challenge funded by the governments of the United States, Sweden, South Africa, and the Netherlands.

Lizzie Merrill, project manager at Ignitia, says it’s the ICT weather forecasting model that has more than twice the accuracy of existing models.

 “It is one of the first forecasting systems to produce highly accurate weather predictions for the tropics,” Says Merril.

“Traditional global weather models have only been able to predict weather in the tropics with 39 per cent accuracy – not good enough for a population of three billion people, up to 80 per cent of whom are small-scale farmers.”

Ignitia says its innovation has a weather prediction accuracy rate of 84 per cent.

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