Investing in Ignitia: improving smallholder farmers livelihoods

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship supports Ignitia to scale its tropical weather forecast service to millions of farmers working in the tropical belts. 

Ignitia provides smallholder farmers with accurate weather forecasts so they can better align their farming activities with –now predictable– localised weather patterns. This allows the farmers to better plan their activities and reduce costs for fertilizers, lead to higher yields and improve the farmers’ income.

Equity investment
By supporting Ignitia to scale their enterprise, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship B.V made its first-ever equity investment. Ignitia will use this investment to grow their team, add new supercomputer capacity and look to extend their weather services into new regions.  

The steps to success

Currently, weather forecasts over tropical areas are not that accurate and affect millions of small scale, family-run farms worldwide. Estimates are that 75% of the world's farmland is managed by small scale farmers with tropical farms a key ingredient in satisfying global food demand.

In rural parts of West Africa, the weather is the largest cause of yield loss for farmers today, due to fact that it’s often the only source of water for a large majority of farmers. Small scale farmers in tropical regions lack reliable weather forecasts to make informed decisions in the crop lifecycle, such as when to plant, apply fertilizer, hire labour and harvest. This lack of planning creates risks and results in many failures. 

Ignitia has developed a system of 'predictive analytics' which is able to map tropical weather patterns and predicts with an 84% accuracy whether it is going to rain, at what time and for what intensity.
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(photo: Ignitia. Liisa Smits founder of Ignitia speaks with farmers in West Africa)

The benefits for people

Smallholder farmers play a crucial role in establishing sustainable food systems. Some 98% of the world’s agricultural holdings are 10ha or less and almost all of these small farms are in developing countries, where they support around 2 billion people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 80% of farmland is cultivated by smallholders. [1]

Ignitia has developed ‘Iska’, a daily, 48-hour rainfall forecast delivered via text message directly to farmers for as little as $0.04/day. Currently provided to farmers in West Africa, the service includes monthly and seasonal weather outlooks and is available in any local language. 
Using the forecasts farmers can sow, fertilize and harvest at optimum times, maximizing precious resources and reducing risks across the full farming cycle. This results in a significant increase in income for farms with the benefits felt locally and beyond including:
 
  • Reduced poverty, higher standards of living
  • Reduced loss of agricultural and monetary inputs
  • Reduced water pollution by chemical runoff
  • Efficient use of farmland, reduced degradation of soil, decreased deforestation due to reduced need to extend farmland


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