Ghana, like many other Sub-Saharan African countries, is experiencing extreme drought and irregular weather patterns. These climate change challenges are expected to increase and require adaptation and mitigation measures. To adapt, farmers need localised, climate smart irrigation advice. TU Delft, FutureWater, Holland Greentech and TAHMO are making this vital information accessible to local smallholders. TAHMO’s CEO and TU Delft lecturer, Frank Annor, reveals the underlying technique and processes behind their inclusive solution.

From his office at TU Delft, Frank discusses the innovative technology behind SOSIA+. As a Civil Engineer at TU Delft, he knows exactly how to implement the ideas of this elaborate service. But first, he explains the role of the other organization he works for: “TAHMO aims to develop a dense network of weather stations across Africa to enable precise weather monitoring and forecasting, and to facilitate openly accessible data. Our role in the SOSIA+ project is to provide the technology for the weather stations and moisture sensors, and to monitor and deliver real-time weather and climate data.”


Frank Annor

SOISA+ Technology

“Small-scale farmers receive localised irrigation advice on required water volumes and duration of irrigation from us to enhance water security and improve crop production,” Frank explains. “We’ve combined TAHMO’s data-collection technology with an algorithm created by FutureWater. Additionally, we offer training on the use of this system through the TU Delft partnership with Ghanaian universities and knowledge institutes and the Holland Greentech Ghana team.”

The irrigation advice is communicated through various channels, including an app, text messages, WhatsApp and in person. Frank explains: “Effective communication channels are crucial because we rely on farmers to collect and share data from their farms. This allows us to validate our advice and tailor it to the unique conditions of each farm. That’s why we created a modular communication system. The channels we use and the information we provide are based on the farmer’s preference and skills.”

An accessible service

“This technology stands out because it provides highly localised information that is directly applicable to the farmer’s field,” Frank explains. “Typically, such advanced technology is only accessible to large-scale farmers. However, we’ve developed a concept that allows multiple individual smallholder farmers to purchase the service collectively. Moreover, we’ve employed cost-effective, low-maintenance technology and a modular system that can be scaled to suit the farm’s size and the farmer’s level of expertise.”


“One of the key success factors of SOSIA+ is that we’ve developed the service and technology in collaboration with the farmers via an iterative process,” Frank reflects. “Our starting point was to discuss their needs and demonstrate how the system’s features could meet those needs. Then we created a mock-up, returned to the farmers for feedback, adjusted accordingly, and repeated the process. This approach significantly improved the usability and adoption of the service. It truly has been an invaluable lesson for developing solutions that genuinely meet the users’ needs.”



Both Holland Greentech and TAHMO have teams operating in over 20 African countries. Frank explains, enthusiastically: “We already have the necessary connections in various areas, and the system’s modular design is great for scalability. The modularity ensures the technology is easily adaptable to meet the needs of new users in different locations.” He continues: “Challenges exist, such as establishing a viable business model. However, the funding from Partners for Water allows us to test our business model and value proposition in the pilot project and to develop a sound strategy on how to sustain the service moving forward.”


Innovation in progress series

The Partners for Water 5 programme (2022 – 2027) follows several projects that received the Partners for Water subsidy from start to finish. Over the next few years, these projects will take you on their journey of testing the feasibility or application of innovative solutions to enhance water safety and water security abroad. You’ll be able to gain insights into their processes, collaborations with local partners and their potential solutions; as well as their struggles, challenges and their lessons learned. Stay tuned via the Partners for Water LinkedIn page!

For large-scale farmers, using local weather data and a smart irrigation system is a well-known method to enhance water efficiency.

For many smallholders, however, this method is still unknown and difficult to access. The pilot project SOSIA+, funded by Partners for Water, aims to change this. Its innovative and accessible climate-smart irrigation service is currently boosting small-scale farmers in Ghana.

It is early in the morning when Lindsey Schwidder, Celestina Danso Arhin and Patrick Tannor sit down at the breakfast bar of a hotel in The Hague. The latter two, director and business developer respectively of Holland Greentech Ghana, came all the way from Africa. They are part of a Ghana Netherlands Business Council delegation and they are in the Netherlands to meet with Lindsey, Project Manager Water at Delft University of Technology. The two organisations are partners in the consortium behind SOSIA+.

Patrick, Celestina and Lindsey

Shared expertise

Lindsey is SOSIA+’s project leader. With a Masters in society, science and technology, she looks at the applicability of new technologies through a sociological lens. “In my work”, she explains, “I always try to figure out how complex technologies could work in practice”. Lindsey coordinates various international collaboration projects at TU Delft, of which SOSIA+ is one. “I am the nexus for these projects, responsible for ensuring that everyone can bring in their relevant expertise”.

Supporting farmers

“Using water efficiently and seeing farming as a serious business is still uncommon in Ghanaian horticulture”, says Patrick. “Smallholders use their farms to sustain their families and don’t always see it as a way to make money. We make useful technology and knowledge accessible to them, such as the SOSIA+’s smart irrigation system”. Lindsey adds: “This system will support farmers by providing irrigation advice regarding the necessary water volumes and duration of irrigation for the cultivated crop types. The use of real-time local weather data is unique in this regard.”

Ghanaian farmers working with the smart irrigation system

Accessible service

The project builds on years of collaboration between TU Delft, Holland Greentech and Ghanaian farmers. “A few years ago, together with TU Delft, we designed the ‘Farming as a Business’ course”, says Celestina. “While teaching the course, the idea arose to make an accessible smart irrigation service available to these farmers”. The innovative tool was designed in collaboration with Future Water, a Dutch consultancy and research company and TAHMO a social enterprise initiative, with hundreds of weather stations across Africa.

Local collaboration

“Farmers are not just users but also local partners in promoting and disseminating our service”, Patrick says. “Thanks to previous successful, long-term collaborations, there is strong support among the farmers for implementing a pilot project like this. The farmers we work with have realised first-hand that they can save a lot of money with our technologies, knowledge and services. This often makes them very enthusiastic about participating. They are truly our ambassadors and share their acquired knowledge and experiences with as many as 100 to 200 other farmers in the region.”

Ghanaian farmers working with the smart irrigation system

Experiencing impact

“We consider water conservation very important”, says Lindsey. “But Ghanaian farmers often have other priorities. That’s why we also focus on what matters to them. For example, we link our technology’s impact in the field to the reduced operational hours of the pump – in other words, to lower fuel costs.” Celestina adds: “The most important thing is that we really work with the farmers in the field and receive feedback from them. They are ultimately the ones who have to work with the system and feel its impact.”

Tool development

Lindsey explains that the pilot project aims to cover two growing seasons. “This will not only involve showcasing the service and monitoring water and cost savings, it will also make the SOSIA+ tool more accurate and smarter through corroboration by the farmers. In the coming period, we will train 15 farmers to irrigate a portion of their land using the smart irrigation system and to monitor the outcomes. And then, the pilot project will get started!”

TU Delft project members visiting Holland Greentech Ghana and the Ghanaian farmers

Innovation in progress series

The Partners for Water programme follows several projects that received the Partners for Water funding from start to finish. Over the next few years, these projects will take you on their journey of testing the feasibility or application of innovative solutions to enhance water security abroad. You’ll be able to gain insights into their processes, collaborations with local partners and their potential solutions; as well as their struggles, challenges and their lessons learned.

Visit the projectpage for project updates

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