Accra, Nov 6, GNA - The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has rolled out an initiative aim at monitoring and collecting data on weather patterns to guide farming activities in Ghana’s cocoa growing areas.
The Initiative being undertaken in collaboration with the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands, and Farmerline Limited-Ghana, through the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) Foundation in the Netherlands intends to set up a water and weather monitoring system that would gather information to educate cocoa and vegetable farmers as they adapt to the impact of climate change.
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research under its Food & Business Applied Research Fund is supporting this project, while the Kingdom of Netherlands is funding part of the initiative with a 250,000 Euros for two years after, which the self-sustaining initiative would be rolled out on larger scale for a long period of time.
Farmerline, a local organisation that provide farming services to farmers in the country, would be providing improved information from the data to be gathered through better communication channels for small-scale farmers through a mobile messaging platform.
During the launching of the Initiative in Accra on Thursday, Mr Frank Annor, a Lecturer at the Civil Engineering Department of the KNUST said the two academic consortium partners, are collaborating with the Ghana Meteorological Agency, to develop both a dense network of TAHMO Agro-Meteorological stations and the technical infrastructure to enable farmers’ access hydro and agro-meteorological data via mobile phones.
He said the project aims to establish 40 new automatic weather stations in secondary schools across the country to monitor and communicate climate data to more than 10,000 cocoa farmers in Western, Brong Ahafo, and Ashanti Regions and in the Afram Plains by 2016.
“This will be done with the support of Farmerline’s innovative mobile technology, which sends voice and SMS messages in local languages to large numbers of small-scale farmers”, he said.
Nii Boi Ayibotele, Chair of the Global Water Partnership-Ghana, said the initiative is very important considering the importance of data and information to the water, food, energy and environment sectors, adding that, access to regular, reliable and timely climate data is essential for the sustainable development and management of these sectors.
He said approximately 60 per cent of Ghana’s workforce is involved in agriculture and so it is important for the development of such an infrastructure to monitor, collect, store both historical and current climate data and interpret them in local language to the Ghanaian farmer.
“This will support efforts for effective food production, harvest forecasts, and water resource management.
A weather-related information is the single most valuable type of information that farmers need and any increase in quantity and quality of climate stations, from which current and historical data can be collected and made available to them will have great impact on their production in Ghana,” he said.
Mr Alloysius Attah, Chief Executive Officer of FarmerLine, said the main objective of the collaboration is to help farmers get favourable weather conditions for the crops.
He said through the initiative weather stations would be installed in various cocoa farms from which signals would be sent to farmers in order to resend such information to the farmers.
“We are currently starting with only cocoa farms, which makes three quarters of food crops but very soon, farms of other food crops will be included,” he added.
Mr Attah said the project would be extended to other African countries including Sierra Leone, Guinea and Senegal.
He explained that farmers who want to access the voice mail would be required to pay some amount of money seasonally as the initiative becomes more sustainable.
Other partners include Ghana Meteorological Agency; WASCAL Ghana; Environmental Protection Agency; Vodafone Ghana; Ghana Education Service and Ghana News Agency.