The lack of weather data and reliable forecasts in many developing countries, and the too-often devastating impacts on farming and agriculture, is a well-documented problem that a number of public, private, and non-profit organizations are working hard to address. The consequences are only growing as a changing climate is making floods, droughts, heat waves, and other weather and climate hazards more frequent and more extreme.
After a visit to Africa last year, TomorrowNow.org’s Georgina Campbell Flatter wrote about the weather-related challenges facing farmers in Africa and many other parts of the developing world. She described three main roadblocks to using weather information:
Weather has significant impacts across the entire farming lifecycle. The impact on plant growth and crop yield is probably the most obvious, with both of these highly dependent on water availability, soil condition, temperature, and other weather and climatic factors. Yet weather also plays an important role long before a seed is even planted, particularly when it comes to seed breeding to increase crop yields and tolerance to weather extremes.
There are a variety of reasons for the inadequate weather forecasts in Africa and many developing countries, but they all start with a lack of data—both a lack of detailed historical weather data to correlate weather and climate conditions with past seed performance, and a lack of real-time data needed to generate accurate and timely weather forecasts to maximize future seed performance.
The success of seed breeding and ability to deliver accurate, timely, and actionable weather information to farmers has life-or-death implications for millions of people in Africa and around the world whose food supplies are increasingly threatened by shifting climate zones and extreme weather, such as the drought that has left tens of thousands of people in Madagascar on the verge of famine.
Tomorrow.io has developed new technologies and tools to improve weather forecasts globally and how they are delivered to people for operational use: