In Zambia, the Meteorological Department opens its weather and climate data by providing informative weather products to end users. For example, it publishes the 10-day crop weather bulletin.
The Crop Weather Bulletin is a 10-day (dekad) weather and climate information publication produced by the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) that is used by farmers and as a tool to update the seasonal rainfall forecasts. The bulletin is shared to the public through a mailing list, it is downloadable from the ZMD website and broadcasted through community radio stations. Among the recipients on the mailing list are District Agriculture Officers and Agricultural Extension Officers in the country who distribute it to farmers in their locations.
The bulletin gives highlights of the rainfall distribution in the last 10 days, showing which stations recorded higher and lower rainfall amounts and number of rain days. It also gives a cumulative rainfall performance from the beginning of the rain season to the same dekad period under review. Thou the bulletin covers the whole country, it gives details according to regions.
Data for the bulletin is collected from 41 manual weather stations mainly using SMS to MET head office on 1st, 11th and 21st of every month as all stations are installed with GSM phones. The publication of the bulletin is produced and shared within two days after data collection.
A 10-days weather forecast is given for each region in the country. The agro-meteorological conditions give an overview of the crop (maize) condition based on the crop stage and amount of rainfall received so far. A summary of the crop weather bulletin gives rainfall amounts and number of rain days for all stations that sent their reports for that period, cumulative amounts received since the season started, normal rainfall amounts up to that dekad and a departure from the normal.
Currently, ZMD prefers to make a shift towards providing informative weather products like the crop bulletin to end-users rather than opening all its raw data. The reason is to ensure that the data is quality controlled. Moreover, ZMD is mandated and has the expertise to generate meteorological product and services for the sectors.
This service like other weather services and products are sustained through government funding to the Met Department. Users, like Agricultural Extension Officers and farmers, do not pay for services because ZMD has no legal framework to charge for its services and products.
There is no complete user database because the bulletin is redistributed by intermediaries, who are not mapped into the user database. Furthermore, distribution of the bulletin is mainly through the internet, which many farmers in remote regions have no access to. SMS service is currently being considered as farmers have better access to mobile phone services, but it comes at a cost. Nevertheless, most farmers can get the information, as it is broadcasted on community radio stations.
ZMD is getting feedback mainly from institutional stakeholders and this has helped improve the information and presentation of crop weather bulletin product with more visualisations. Now, there are more pictures and maps included that show details. Feedback from users of the bulletin indicates that they would like to have more information pertaining to other crops besides maize.
The major challenge is fewer station network. Another challenge is to get all the data from the manual weather stations on time to be included in the bulletin, due to telecommunication issues. Investment capacity is required, both in technology and skills to improve the bulletin, data collection, data assimilation and numerical weather modelling. Further, the services and products require being published in local languages for a better understanding of smallholder farmers.
Open data in the weather domain could address the information needs of agro-meteo farm advisory systems. However, is open data ‘fit-for-purpose’; does it match the needs of being reliable, relevant, timely and accessible? Some answers come from the CommonSense project targeting smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.Read More
Two innovative enterprises have integrated a weather service system within an agro advisory service for farmers in East Africa. The eProd handheld device collects the GPS locations and agronomic information such as soil type, seed variety and planting date. aWhere combines this information with their weather data so farmers can now be sent SMS weather forecasts, spray alerts, fertiliser advice and yield projections.Read More
Providing added value services for smallholders using open weather data in developing countries is challenging. Therefore, on 21 and 22 November 2017 practitioners, policy-makers and academics gathered in The Hague, the Netherlands, to explore in two workshops the practical and strategic challenges they face to work with open weather data and how to address them.Read More
Most of the business models for weather services to smallholder farmers in Kenya are financially too unsustainable to scale-up. To do so it requires capacity building and establishing quality management system geared toward validating the impact.Read More
by Leigh Dodds
Ensuring that data can be easily accessed, used and shared requires the use of data standards. If you are currently working on a data project you should take time to consider what standards might be available to you to help to achieve the goals of your project.Read More
Climate warming affects the water cycle, which impacts negatively on agricultural production and derails the cyclical effects associated with weather predictions and agricultural seasonality. Making use of weather data could help farmers to mitigate to the circumstances and increase farm productivity. To succeed, pragmatic public-private multi-stakeholder partnerships are required.Read More
by Tufa Dinku
Availability of and access to climate data and information products is critical to achieving climate resilient development. However, climate information is not widely used in Africa. Useful information is often not available or, if it does exist, is inaccessible to those that need it most. Efforts are being made to alleviate the problem of data availability and use.Read More
There is a lack of weather and climate observation stations in Africa, while food production, harvest predictions, and disaster mitigation would benefit from improved data-accessible observation. A new smart and sustainable weather and climate observation network now addresses the important challenge of monitoring the weather in the continent.Read More
All agricultural stakeholders have an interest in accurate, localised and reliable meteorological data. Having access to such data means that organisations and entrepreneurs can translate raw weather data into accessible weather information, which is crucial for farmers to make well-informed farm management decisions and for effective risk mitigation.Read More
In Zambia, the Meteorological Department opens its weather and climate data by providing informative weather products to end users. For example, it publishes the 10-day crop weather bulletin.Read More
The start-up enterprise Severe Weather Consult in Rwanda succeeded in receiving support to develop a business model and is now involved in a public private partnership that allows them to make use of weather data for an alert advisory service to farmers.Read More
Smallholder farmers in the Pacific have no access to weather index-based insurances, while flooding is a real threat for them. Preliminary research in the region suggests that weather and agricultural data, and the exact locations of farmers is weak in the region.Read More