FarmerSupport mobile app allows farmers to access timely and location-specific climate information services for decision making; the information combines both local and scientific forecasts.
FarmerSupport mobile app is used to coproduce climate services with and for rice farmers in northern Ghana. Farmers use the app to collect local forecast indicators which are used daily local forecasts generation and soil moisture monitoring. With the app, farmers receive both local, scientific, and hybrid forecasts on a daily, 7-days, 14-days basis, and more. Additionally, farmers interact with scientists and receive agronomic advice on forecasting information to make informed decisions. The FamerSupport app tool is used by lowland valleys rice farmers at the 2 hub’ sites, namely, Nakpazoo and Yapalsi, in Tamale, Ghana.
The implementation of the coproduction of rainfall and soil moisture forecasts with the FarmerSupport app followed several steps (some steps are done simultaneously). First, a baseline study was conducted to understand farmers ‘needs and local knowledge. Secondly, 1-14-days scientific rainfall forecasts are acquired from Meteoblue (meteoblue.com) for the hub sites. Daily local rainfall forecasts are acquired from local farmers. This is possible by engaging farmers to collect biophysical indicators (e.g. sun, cloud, insects, etc.) which were then translated into forecasts. Local and scientific rainfall forecasts are combined into hybrid forecasts to improve the accuracy. Thirdly, soil moisture forecasts are simulated using the ‘BUDGET’ model which runs on MS-WIN. The soil initial conditions for running this model are provided by farmers who collect local knowledge on soil moisture. Finally, iterative tool design, training sessions, and real-time testing of the tool is conducted with farmers. After the testing phase, an evaluation was carried out to help understand the benefit of the tool and forecast information as well as translocation principles of the App to other regions.
During the coproduction process, rice farmers in the lowland valleys have learned to improve the ability to use the tool and understand the information. Farmers and agricultural extensions workers use both this tool for decision making at farm level.