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Weather data for agriculture

Weather data and services have a high potential to enhance support for smallholder farmers in taking operational decisions on farm management. Plant growth is driven by weather variables and therefore agricultural production is directly dependent on weather conditions. Many agricultural activities (e.g. sowing, harvesting, and fertiliser application) are dependent on weather conditions for planning and effectiveness. Given this, all agricultural stakeholders are interested in some form of meteorological data.

In this issue

The suitability of existing open data weather data for agro-meteo advisory

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Past issues

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Women and Digitalisation in Agriculture

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Data4Ag: New opportunities for organised smallholder farmers

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Unlocking the potential of blockchain for agriculture

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Precision agriculture for smallholder farmers

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