Cocoa Beans and Climatological Data

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), ground-based weather data are largely absent in Sub Saharan Africa. The Trans African Hydro Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) initiative aims to address this lack of available data by installing 20,000 frugal weather stations in Sub Saharan Africa. The TAHMO stations are frugal because of its use of innovative sensor technology and ICT. Last Year, TAHMO and its local partners Farmerline and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) received funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for setting up forty stations in the cocoa producing regions in Ghana.

Since I work for the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA), and given TAHMO is one of the initiatives we are collaborating with, I seized the opportunity to join a delegation of TAHMO-ites for their follow-up visit to Ghana in February-March this year. The main aim of our visit was to co-create viable business models for the NWO project, since the stations should be operated locally after funding has terminated. For the preparation of the business model sessions I carried out a stakeholder analysis (by desk research) and with local experts I co-created a cocoa market map (including actors from the cocoa value chain, its enabling environment and service providers) to identify hurdles and opportunities we might be facing when setting up the weather stations.

Together with local partners we interviewed various stakeholders to improve the cocoa market map and to see where in the value chain weather info can be of value.

The next step was a three day co-creation session with Farmerline for viable business models that meet TAHMO’s dual access requirement. The session was hosted by Boukje Vastbinder (from Delft University of Technology) and during the three days we designed twelve (!) possible business models, ready for a sniff test in the field..

We put the potentially viable business models to the test by for instance talking with this 96 year old cocoa farmer (while eating fresh cocoa beans).

Oh and while observing the farmer’s cocoa trees I discovered some ‘wild life’!

Now that I am back in the Netherlands I will continue co-creating the cocoa market map in Amsterdam. Did you know that the Port of Amsterdam is the largest cocoa harbour in the world? The coming period I will interview some relevant stakeholders at the end part of the cocoa value chain before disseminating the results.


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