Shufola, an innovative weather forecast solution from mPower Social Enterprises Limited, was proclaimed the winner under the ‘Best Innovation – Agriculture Sector’ category at the Bangladesh Business Innovation Award (BBIA) 2019. Find out more about Shufola below.
Due to the greater degree of dependency on weather conditions, weather-shocks can put smallholder farmers’ food security and livelihood in danger at any time. Typical weather forecasts are usually at a regional scale. Often these forecasts do not come true for farmers’ specific locations. Moreover, farmers fail to translate the weather forecast for their circumstance e.g. how an adverse weather condition may affect their crops. Smallholder farmers do not want to know that temperature in next few days will be above 38˚C. They need to know what they have to do in their cornfields because of this high temperature. Even when they understand the effect of weather on their crop, it does not always help because their knowledge of best management practices in response to an adverse weather condition is limited. Moreover, Many of their traditional knowledge of weather patterns are no more effective because of the changing climate.
To address this problem mPower developed a service that combines localized weather forecasts with specific crop management practices to generate highly customized agricultural advisory in the form of actionable advice for individual smallholder farmers. For this, mPower closely collaborated with agronomic experts to identify thresholds of adverse weather conditions for specific crops and climate-smart management practices to reduce or eliminate the effect of them. The weather forecasts for specific upazila level is generated by downscaling data from Weather Research & Forecast (WRF) model to 4km by 4km grid for specific weather parameters like temperature, humidity, rainfall, solar radiation that are critical for crops. The adverse weather parameters with specific threshold values were converted into algorithms. In addition, we installed Automated Weather Station (AWS) in the field to monitor real-time weather data that not only help us conduct ground-truthing of the forecast but also sends advisory to manage sudden weather shock. Our farmer profiling with specific information ensures that farmers get personalized advice. All these data are aggregated in our integrated IT platform that triggers farmer specific crop management advice. These alert messages are delivered 2 to 3 days ahead of an unfavorable weather condition to allow a farmer sufficient time to act.
A Boston based research firm, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) ran a pilot A/B test to understand the impact of the service. The major findings are summarized below:
- 83% of farmers adopted at least one recommended advice.
- 95% of farmers advised other farmers to follow the recommendations
- 82% of farmers found the recommendations helpful
- 97% of farmers are willing to register to the service in next season
- Farmers gave an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 to the service with 65% of the respondents rating the service as ‘good’ (4/5) and 31% as very good (5/5).
As a result of its effectiveness, Shufola has been adopted by over 38,000 farmers and that number is still climbing.