With the WaterApps project, Wageningen University and partners are working to provide tailored climate and weather information to smallholder farmers in Ghana and Bangladesh. In line with this project, the WaterApps business challenge is launched on the 24th of July at the Ghana Innovation Hub Conference. This business challenge aims to involve local start-ups in developing a mobile application (app) that can answer to the needs of smallholder farmers in Ghana.
One of the main challenges in creating a successful climate information app lies in understanding the needs of the user. This relates to not only the interface of the app but also the kind of indicators you provide, the time frame you are looking at and how interactive the app is. For example, you can give general weather information like the average daily temperature for the coming seven days and the amount of daily precipitation for the coming days, but this information can also be supplied in a more tailored and interactive way.
An interesting angle in Ghana is to include indigenous forecasting information in the app. This is what the business challenge focuses on. Farmers in Ghana make use of different signs than the weather forecast on their mobile phone to predict if it is going to rain or not. For example, specific animal behavior, cloud cover or tree phenology. An app could be designed in such a way that farmers enter these indigenous predictions in the app where they are combined with the modeled weather forecast to provide a more complete forecast.
The combination of indigenous and climate information is currently explored by two PhD students in Ghana in the WaterApps and the EVOCA project. This business challenge is used to channel the knowledge gained in the scientific research into a practical business that can be implemented in the field.
The participants of the business challenge have to come up with their own prototype and business model for the mobile application. This app has to tailored weather and climate services with a forecast of two days up to four weeks, is freely accessible for smallholder farmers in Ghana and includes a feature to upload and access local observations. Additionally the team has to have the technical skills to actually develop it. The winner of the challenge will receive 4000 euro to develop the app in the WaterApps project.