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John Corbett is the CEO and CoFounder of aWhere, Inc. headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado. Learn more at awhere.com.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
aWhere Inc. is an agricultural intelligence company focused on delivery of in-time ag-weather products supporting decisions across the agricultural value chain – the agri-food sector.
aWhere’s foundation asset is a localized, daily, global, 10+ year historical observed and agriculturally optimized ag-meteorological dataset. Forecast (168 hours – 7 days), updated every six hours, completes the in-time data asset. This data offers a powerful base from which analysts across all segments of the agri-food sector create insights to support farmers, track and predict yield, and then in aggregate, support input providers, food security assessment, risk, and commodity supply. All aWhere products are available in interoperable formats and aWhere provides a suite of ‘R’ scripts and QGIS styles – plus tutorials including recorded training – to enable rapid adoption and utilization of these data and their agricultural derivatives within the workflow of agri-food analysts.
aWhere offers advanced insight products – ‘big data analytics’ – that include environmental trend, crop suitability, site similarity, a suite of crop disease models, and other advanced agronomic assessments. This foundation dataset has a spatial resolution of 5 arc-minutes or about 9km at the equator.
aWhere’s platform of base and advanced information are the foundation assets we use to derive agronomic insights using observed conditions and plant biology models. These insights and information are accessible via a number of mechanisms from online apps that empower users by letting them see the data through interactive maps, charts, and graphs to FTP access of all information utilized to make such maps. Users can access these tools directly through aWhere’s Agricultural Intelligence Platform with any internet-connected device.
Whether you’re looking for a forecast map of a region or detailed moisture stress for a specific crop, we offer insight to support a variety of businesses or organizations. This information is downloaded directly (i.e., images or GIS-ready map data), or users can augment their own software and apps by integrating with our API. We empower analysts with up-to-date and highly localized ag-meteorological insights.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
aWhere is a registered Benefit Corporation and our vision is to make the agri-food sector more efficient and optimized leveraging data science and information to inform decision-makers across the agri-food sector. Weather drives agriculture. Atmospheric warming has caused variability – and extremes – to increase across the planet. The impact on agriculture starts with the increased risk to farmers and farming. Information, in-time, and field-specific, on ag-weather, is imperative to ensure optimized decisions in virtually all segments of every cropping value chain.
aWhere’s founding mission leveraged experience from living, working and studying in east Africa and as our footprint grew across the planet, our mission to support production agriculture also grew. aWhere employees share a passion for making a difference – from helping small-holder farmers adapt to what the environment is giving to researchers seeking to understand the scope of the challenge.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Over the past few years, nearly one million small-holder farmers in Africa and South Asia have received, on their cell phones, information to assist them during the growing season. Currently, we are installing a visionary platform – an ‘agricultural observatory’ in multiple African countries – the first seeded by the World Bank (Kenya and Ethiopia) and two more in countries as direct contracts with the governments. We deliver our foundation ag-weather data, our geospatial, and, crucially and inspiringly, capacity building and training. From ministries of agriculture, meteorological departments, and national research organizations, analysts from across the spectrum of agriculture come to these trainings to take advantage of in-time local ag weather leveraging freely available analytical platforms like ‘R’ and QGIS.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Boosting farmer profitability is not an abstraction. Measured results from the provision of in-time information make this clear. Ag observatory training has only just started but already we are seeing passionate individuals leverage aWhere information in their daily workflow to produce more relevant and timely advisories.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We believe that population growth, diet changes, and increased weather variability are creating the perfect storm for possible crises in the near future (as in 2019…). Whether a pocket drought displaces people in an already vulnerable area or a widespread insect pest (i.e., Fall Army Worm) significantly impacts food production, hunger and frustration spur incredible stress and conflict, historically, has been tied to agricultural failure. In-time information can help dampen the impact of weather variability and inform decision makers to get ahead of possible crises.
At aWhere, our vision is to be part of the solution to ameliorate crises through better information helping adjustment and planning towards the peaceful resolution of crises that start with a shortage of food.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Currently, we are limited by our ability to ‘spread the word’ though at the same time we are perilously close to being maxed out delivering to our current customers! So resources in support of marketing and business development, as well as commensurate technical support, are needed.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
PR/marketing. aWhere is not a weather company though we are easily pigeon-holed as such. Our challenge is communicating the value of our information assets, our domain expertise, and the potential to support analysts in their current workflow. Rising above or apart from the noise of other weather companies – that primarily attempt to differentiate based on their short-term forecast accuracy – is not easy. Real observed data drive agriculture as prediction (of yield, of ROI for agronomic interventions) is only derived if you understand what has actually happened (i.e. soil moisture status, growth stage) in the context of what any particular stress may have on final profitability. Fertilizing, spraying for a pest – these are real activities that are tied to a complex of when and current conditions – and no weather forecast can capture this state of the agronomic condition.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Agriculture has many characteristics that are fairly special and differentiates this industry from many others. You cannot throw more money at a field of maize and make it grow faster! The cyclical pulse of the ag-seasons, the conservative nature of farmers (especially those who consume what they grow) means risk aversion is real – and my advice to others looking to make a difference is simple: focus on value to your client. With agriculture, it can be said, if the farmer is more profitable then all the other segments of the value chain can grow their profits. It starts – and ends – with the farmer.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
A little too broad of a question! Clearly, introductions to key decision makers helps – as would connections to other ag-tech companies aligned in the goal of helping farmers.
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