Already, the platform is supporting 7,500 cocoa farmers, extension advisors and wider community members in the Western Region with training and localized weather forecasting services, which includes mobile phone alerts, enhanced by four weather stations installed locally in 2018.
The initiative, which also helps strengthen agricultural productivity and climate resilience in the West African cocoa landscape, is being pioneered by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Opus Insights B.V. (Opus)
Madam Penelope Cabot, Director, and Co-Founder of Opus, made the announcement at a side event during the African Climate Week (ACW) held in Accra.
Under the theme: “Climate Change Action in Africa: A Race We Can Win”, is the first of the three regional climate week summit to be organised by the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change, designed to act as critical stepping stone towards the two primary ambition driving event to be held this year.
She asserted that the West African Cocoa belt suffered an acute lack of easily accessible and accurate weather data in key growing areas, preventing essential agricultural-management decisions by farmers.
She recounted, “In Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere, we hear of similar stories including, I do not know when the rains will start. It looks like there will be rains, but it has not come yet.”
“The rain started and then stopped. I have lost my seeds, my crop. I have wasted my inputs. Productivity is being affected. I need more information.”
Mr Peter Bakker, President and Chief Executive Officer of WBCSD said, “CocoaCloud demonstrates our commitment to transforming food systems in key regions using innovative, climate-smart solutions. In addition to boosting productivity, CocoaCloud has the potential to enhance ongoing public, private and civil society initiatives in West Africa. We are now calling for many other organizations to join and benefit from CocoaCloud.”
He noted that a total of 15 partner organizations were required to reach the investment target of $1.4 million over five years and that Kellogg Company, Olam International and Mondelez International had already committed to the scale-up of CocoaCloud, which included a new network of 150 on-ground weather and soil sensors across Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire planned for rollout in late 2019.
“CocoaCloud, is a critical tool to support more productive farmers while safeguarding agricultural landscapes and reducing deforestation and emissions through sustainable intensification”, said Mr Sunny Verghese, Chief Executive Officer of Olam International.
Mr Peter Gibbs, Fellow of The Royal Meteorological Society and Opus Insights’ Meteorological Adviser said without the basic information from weather stations, it would be difficult to project a useful forecast for farmers to make informed decisions.
“For people farming, it could actually be the difference between life and death. Give them a reliable weather forecast,” he added.