Farmers Empowered: Accra Workshop Tackles Climate Challenges with Crop-Climate Modeling

Share this to :

In a week-long intensive workshop, researchers, agricultural stakeholders, and early-career scientists from across Africa, Asia, and Europe gathered in Accra, Ghana, to equip themselves with powerful tools for combating climate change’s impact on agriculture. Organized by the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) West Africa, in collaboration with the Sustainable Intensification Mixed Farming System (SI-MFS), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the workshop focused on utilizing crop models for integrated climate risk assessment and developing adaptation strategies.

With climate change disrupting weather patterns and jeopardizing food security, the workshop gave participants the knowledge and skills to leverage advanced crop models and climate data. These models act as digital simulations, allowing researchers to assess potential climate impacts and develop tailored adaptation strategies for various scales, from individual fields to entire landscapes.

“The application of crop models is still a developing field, but it holds immense potential for empowering farmers,” explains Professor Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi, lead organizer from LSHTM. “By understanding the specific risks their crops face due to climate change, farmers can make informed decisions about planting dates, crop choices, and water management, ultimately increasing their resilience and ensuring better yields.”

The importance of the workshop wasn’t confined to the academic realm; it held direct implications for farmers. The integration of crop models in climate risk assessment allowed for the development of practical advisories for farmers, aiding decisions on planting dates, crop choices, and cultivation practices. The workshop’s ultimate goal was to equip researchers with the tools to support farmers with timely, climate-smart information, fostering resilience and sustainable agricultural practices.

The workshop’s objectives were multifaceted, aiming to enhance conceptual and technical understanding, provide practical exercises, and improve the inter-comparability of crop-climate modeling. The focus areas included:

  • Applying crop models for climate risk impact assessment.
  • Translating model outputs into adaptation strategies.
  • Addressing challenges in integrated climate risk assessments.

The workshop offered a comprehensive learning experience, including:

  • Interactive lectures and discussions led by crop modeling and climate change experts.
  • Hands-on practical exercises where participants applied their newfound knowledge to real-world scenarios.
  • Sharing of best practices and case studies from across the region.
  • Exploration of underutilized crops, identifying their potential for future food security in a changing climate.

“This workshop has been invaluable,” shared Siyabusa Mkuhlani, a data scientist and crop modeler from the Excellence in Agronomy Initiative. “I now have the skills and confidence to use crop models to support farmers in my region, helping them adapt to the challenges of climate change and secure their livelihoods.”

There is a need for ongoing research and development in refining crop models and making the information accessible to farmers. The transition from theory to practice, coupled with tailored advisories and climate change adaptation strategies, can bridge the gap between researchers and farmers, ensuring the practical application of crop modeling for food and nutrition security. “Crop models are a game-changer, especially as we can’t measure everything happening in fields,” says Birhanu Zemadim Birhanu, Deputy Country Representative & Senior Researcher – Water and Land Management Expert IWMI-Ghana, also a participant and co-organizer in the recent crop modeling workshop in Accra, Ghana. “These models, when well-adapted, can guide us in making crucial decisions about resource use efficiency (water and nutrient use management), agronomic operations (planting dates, weeding, harvesting), and even anticipating potential pest and disease problems. This workshop is crucial for developing reliable models that use readily available data, ultimately helping us navigate the challenges of a changing climate.”

The Accra workshop marks a significant step in equipping African researchers and stakeholders with the tools they need to address climate change’s impact on agriculture. By empowering farmers with data-driven insights and adaptation strategies, the workshop contributes to a more food-secure and resilient future for the continent. This workshop did not take place in isolation but formed part of a broader training program, building on a preceding workshop in Zimbabwe that introduced AquaCrop, DSSAT, and APSIM models. The objective was to deepen the understanding and interpretation of crop model outputs, aligning with the broader mission of the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative and partners.

About the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative

The CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative was launched in 2020 to improve outcomes for smallholder farmers amidst climate change. EiA is supported by the CGIAR Big Data Platform and will combine big data analytics, new sensing technologies, geospatial decision tools, and farming systems research to come up with scalable agronomic innovations for agricultural development. The initiative is not only responding to demand from the public and private sector but will also help increase efficiencies through stronger collaboration and cross-learning among CGIAR centers and within the broader agronomy R&D ecosystem. More information can be found on the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy website. Follow the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) Initiative on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter, for updates and information.

Share this to :