Nonprofit Fellowships

Empowering Pakistani Farmers Through Access To Weather Forecasts

Precision Development (PxD) is a global nonprofit that harnesses technology, data science, and behavioral economics to build empowering digital services. PxD distributes SMS and voice message advisories at low cost to the world’s poorest individuals, most frequently in the context of increasing smallholder farmer incomes.

During a four month-long Oliver Wyman Nonprofit Fellowship with PxD, I was tasked with leading the design and development of a new weather forecasting product for 500,000 cotton farmers in Punjab, Pakistan. This product aims to provide critical weather information to farmers who, without internet access, are at risk of input washout, pests, and diseases. I worked alongside researchers, agronomists, weather forecast specialists, and programmers to design and launch surveys to identify the weather-related challenges with highest impact. We then translated those survey findings into specific messages to send farmers to mitigate these challenges, and we worked with forecast specialists to determine the weather parameters required to build such messages. We then launched a weather product for more than 2,000 farmers.

It was insightful to work with and learn from such a diverse team in terms of educational background, cultural upbringing, communication style, and work style. It helped me further appreciate that the way of working I had previously developed was simply a way and not the way.

Additionally, I was inspired by PxD’s strong focus on measurable impact and causality, which is critical to spending donors’ funds effectively and to discovering cost-effective ways to support those most in need. This has motivated me to apply a more scientifically rigorous lens to the projects I contribute to, and to ensure that the ideas I bring forward and the actions I take are creating their intended impact.

I am so thankful to Oliver Wyman for sponsoring me through the Nonprofit Fellowship program, and to PxD for allowing me to contribute while teaching me so much along the way.

For those interested, further details of PxD’s Pakistani weather product can be found here.