In West Africa the most important question is ‘Will the rains be good or bad?’ Eric Wood, a professor at Princeton University, has worked with small farms in Africa and Latin America to create a drought and flood risk monitoring system, letting growers know when rains will come and how plentiful they will be. Weather data in those areas can be plentiful, Wood notes, but hard for local farmers to analyze.
“There’s a strong seasonal cycle of rainfall, coming from the south,” said Wood. “They want to know, will they have good rains or bad rains, when will the rainy season start? They want to make sure the rains are there before they plant. If they plant too early, the seeds will die before they get established. These are people who live on a couple of dollars a day, maybe less. It’s very difficult for them to get new seed to plant.”
You can learn more about the project on Princeton’s website.