Startup is selling subscription-based weather forecast to improve crop yield in Africa

Startup is selling subscription-based weather forecast to improve crop yield in Africa

The majority of sub Saharan countries have no access to reliable weather forecasts, which is a serious constraint for farmers’ planning and timing of farming activities (e.g planting). The lack of accurate forecasts is particularly distressing given the recent changes in weather patterns, exacerbated by global climate change, negatively impacting traditional farming practices, where indigenous knowledge is no longer relevant.

As a result of climate change, large parts of West Africa is experiencing changing weather conditions and increasing occurrence of extreme weather events (e.g. floods and droughts). These changes are disrupting typical farming patterns, and a lack of knowledge of how to protect against effects makes smallholder farmers particularly vulnerable.

This is where iska comes in.

iska is built on a disruptive technology allowing for much more accurate prediction than seen before in West Africa. Iska™ has shown an 84% accuracy rate over 2 rainy seasons during 2013 and 2014, compared with global competitors that only reach 39% in West Africa.

Unlike most weather service providers, Ignitia does not only repackage existing weather forecast data for customization, but has developed its products from scratch; since no reliable weather forecast system existed in the region.

The governing physics driving the tropical atmosphere differs from existing model practices and occurs on a different scale. Ignitia’s tropical weather forecast is based on proprietary algorithms developed over 15 man-years by its scientists.

Iska was created by Sweden-based Ignitia, and it came second at the first Agricultural Innovation Investment Summit run by USAID held in Washington, DC in June.

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.

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