Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
Of the est. 1.4 billion ha of crop land worldwide, around 80% is rainfed and accounts for ~60% of global agricultural output (FAO); Our forecasts help minimize risk and maximize yields in every stage of the farming cycle. For example, Abdul is a farmer in Ghana. We let him know that the season would start 3 weeks late. If he had planted at the traditional time, he would have lost his entire yield. Our daily 48hr rain forecasts, allows for smarter labor planning and saves money on inputs – eg. hiring equipment (which cannot be used when raining), spraying fertilizer/pesticide (which is washed away in heavy rain), or harvest/post-harvest activities (many crops needs to dry before/after harvest, and can be damaged if not stored properly).
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.
During our first full commercial year we managed to get nearly 80,000 farmers subscribed. Current studies from West Africa showing that using weather forecasts to optimize farming activities can increase yields by around 30%-80% and increase income by as much as 80% depending on crop. In a study on 100 randomly located farmers using our service, the key findings were as follows (Masara N’Arziki, 2014):
• 100% of the users understood the SMS forecasts they were receiving.
• 92% of the farmers found the service useful in their farming practices.
• 93% of the farmers used the forecast to take decisions on application of inputs.
• 83% of the farmers were willing to pay for the service themselves would it not be subsidized by the farmer association.
With a 97% customer retention rate, these significant impact could be scaled to ~120 million farmers in West Africa in the next years.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?
We will expand in Ghana, launch in Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Niger and Ivory Coast in the next two years, and want to expand to the rest of the tropics after that. Our low operational costs, combined with nearly 100% mobile penetration at the BoP, means that the infrastructure to deliver our forecasts is already in place (and we’ve already signed a favorable contract with a telecom partner in Mali with an LOI for 6 additional countries). One strategy is to partner with other successful agricultural projects to increase our access to farmers and magnify success rates as a value-add service.