The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Opus Insights B.V. (Opus) have announced plans to scale ‘CocoaCloud’, a pre-competitive data platform and impact initiative to strengthen agricultural productivity and climate resilience in the West African cocoa landscape.
The two bodies made the announcement at the UN Africa Climate Week in Accra, Ghana, calling for urgent action by the agricultural sector to implement technology solutions for farmers and supply chains affected by climate change in West Africa.
With the target of reaching one million farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire by 2024, the CocoaCloud data platform generates, translates and disseminates critical information – such as weather forecasts and location-specific agricultural advice – that support ‘climate smart’ decisions for agriculture.
The West African cocoa belt suffers from an acute lack of easily accessible, accurate weather data in key growing areas, preventing essential agricultural-management decisions by farmers. The issue is exacerbated by unpredictable weather due to climate change: coastal West Africa is forecast to see unpredictable rainfall and increasingly difficult growing conditions in the coming years.
The impact initiative is already supporting 7,500 cocoa farmers, extension advisors and wider community members in the Western Region of Ghana by providing training and localized weather forecasting services (including mobile phone alerts), enhanced by four weather stations installed locally in 2018.
To achieve scale, the partners behind CocoaCloud are now calling on the private sector and donors to support this pre-competitive agri-tech initiative, where a contribution per investor organization of just US$1.40 per cocoa farmer (or US$10 per month per ground sensor unit) will yield significant benefits to real-time ground data for improving agricultural productivity and supply chain resilience to climate change.
“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 now call for many other organizations to join and benefit from CocoaCloud,” said Peter Bakker, WBCSD’s president and CEO.
A total of 15 partner organizations are required to reach the investment target of US$1.4m over five years. Kellogg Company, Olam International and Mondelēz International have already committed to the scale up of CocoaCloud, which includes a new network of 150 on-ground weather and soil sensors across Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire planned for roll out 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 Sunny Verghese, CEO of Olam International and WBCSD Chair. “CocoaCloud will improve the understanding of climate change for cocoa and other crops threatened by a more unpredictable weather pattern in West Africa.”
What is ‘CocoaCloud’?
- CocoaCloud generates and gathers data from multiple sources, including satellites and ground sensors, and plans to install a new network of 150 ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) weather and soil sensors in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
- CocoaCloud has been piloted with 500 smallholder farmers in the wider community of 7,500 people in Western Region, Ghana. Since late 2018, weather forecasts are being shared with communities through Whatsapp groups and training for farmer advisor extension agents. CocoaCloud plans to scale operations in the second half of 2019 with network coverage across key growing areas of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
- CocoaCloud data and related products and services can be accessed: (1) by farmers, through mobile phone and through farmer extension advisers for climate-adapted farming decisions; (2) by companies along the supply chain for better business planning and pricing decisions; (3) by public sector and researchers; (4) by other related programs and NGO partners also addressing climate change and productivity in West Africa; and (5) by financiers and investors to reduce credit/lending risks and to improve the viability of weather index insurance schemes.
- Partners involved in CocoaCloud have access to the new data and insights from across the cocoa growing areas of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. With access to a dashboard and an Application Program Interface (API) connection, the hourly data from 150 automatic weather stations and interspersed soil moisture sensors will be available to those involved.