Weather data service could transform African farming

Weather data service could transform African farming

“Transformational weather intelligence for resilient agriculture to Africa.” That’s the promise of TomorrowNow.org, a global non-profit helping vulnerable communities adapt to climate change, which has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It will use the money to develop innovative weather intelligence for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lack of weather data and reliable forecasts prevents many of these farmers from adequately preparing for extreme weather and climate conditions, often resulting in devastating crop losses.

TomorrowNow.org will collaborate with partners such as CGIAR, which focuses on research related to food security and weather, and climate security platform Tomorrow.io. Together they aim to to develop tools for seed breeders, crop modellers and on-farm managers to close the weather data gap and turn forecasts into action.

The project will connect advanced weather solutions, including high-resolution weather models and satellite data, with climate innovators to build sustainable pathways for global access to decision support technologies.

This partnership is also about the opportunity to empower resilient solutions across the farming life cycle. Seed breeding, for example, is currently impeded by weather data that is too coarse or inaccurate, and identifying optimal seed varieties for a given location is complicated by shifting climate zones. The weather intelligence solutions developed will support efforts to help seed developers in sub-Saharan Africa to establish more climate-adaptive crops.

TomorrowNow.org and its partners aim to enable inclusive use of data across the farming value chain, notably by representing the voice of farmers, especially women, in the tools design phase. 

Women account for roughly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and in Africa are responsible for producing 70 percent of the food, but typically lack the same agricultural resources as men.

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