Boston, Massachusetts-based weather and climate adaptation platform Tomorrow.io, together with non-profit partner TomorrowNow.org, has unveiled a new initiative to bring next-generation weather intelligence technology to more than 20 million farmers across Africa.
Partnering with organizations including the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Mercy Corps Agrifin-Sprout and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the result of this collective effort will significantly improve the productivity and resilience of African farmers.
Tomorrow.io is contributing US$80m over five years toward the rainfall measuring satellite constellation, development of next-gen AI-based forecast models and data analysis tools, as well as a tailored data and software service suite to provide hyperlocal agriculture decision support. TomorrowNow.org is raising US$20m in transformative capital to accelerate inclusive impact, with a focus on smallholder farmers, women and young people.
Rei Goffer, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Tomorrow.io, said, “Through the use of Tomorrow.io’s weather intelligence and constellation, farmers will be able to know the ideal times to plant and harvest crops. By better understanding the predicted weather impact, local communities are able to meaningfully improve their crop yields, food security and household income.”
Tomorrow.io is launching its constellation of homegrown proprietary satellites equipped with radar in the coming months. With space-based satellites the most critical component in weather forecasting, especially for regions with sparse ground stations, the constellation will improve data refresh rates from the current global standard of three days to three hours.
Georgina Campbell Flatter, co-founder and executive director at TomorrowNow.org, said, “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to utilize transformational philanthropy to empower communities in critical need with the most cutting-edge technology. By leveraging a significant investment from the private sector combined with a major philanthropic multi-stakeholder effort, we can impact lives today and catalyze the partnerships necessary for long-term transformation.”
Rather than focusing on smallholder farmers alone, the driving business principle behind this initiative is the enablement of inclusive impact and long-term financial sustainability, eventually eliminating dependence on external capital injection in the form of grants, soft loans or other means through innovative engagements across the public, private and NGO sectors.
Boniface Akuku, director of ICT at the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), said, “What makes this partnership unique is not only the collaboration between each of our organizations but also our collective focus on working together for inclusive climate action. Making local communities, women and youth a focal point of this initiative from the ground up ensures the programs we put in place will have the level of adoption and longer-term adaptability needed to be successful.”
Sieka Gatabaki, a director at Mercy Corps Agrifin, said, “Indeed, climate change has presented a new normal that demands that we do things differently. Africa faces extremely challenging agricultural conditions and needs scaled reach of weather information to farmers and organizations at an affordable cost. Access to much-improved digital weather forecasts and early-warning systems will ensure farmer-facing organizations, local communities and smallholders will be enabled and equipped to adapt and become more climate change resilient for decades to come.”