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Modeling Africa’s agricultural future

January 8, 2016
Workshop participants in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: CIMMYT

Workshop participants in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: CIMMYT

Climate change is affecting all sectors, especially climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture. Africa in particular is warming faster than the rest of the world, and by the end of this century, growing season temperatures are predicted to exceed the most extreme seasonal temperatures recorded in the past century. In some African countries, yields from rainfed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020.

Predicting the impact climate change will have on Africa’s agriculture is vital to implementing effective adaptation and mitigation plans aimed at maintaining food security and nutrition. Ensuring decision makers and researchers are trained in the best modeling tools available will play a key role in making this happen, which is why CIMMYT held its second training workshop on “Crop Modeling under Uncertain Climate,” from 7-11 December 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The workshop exposed 15 participants to the challenges of climate change and variability in Africa and trained them to apply models that quantify the biophysical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change and variability on crop production. Trainees also assessed different adaptation options.

“The training was extremely important because these tools are very useful to understand the risks associated with agriculture in Africa,” said Ibrahima Diédhiou of Université de Thiès, Senegal.

Trainees collaborating in group work during training. Photo: Kindie Tesfaye/CIMMYT

Trainees collaborating in group work during training. Photo: Kindie Tesfaye/CIMMYT

Training topics included the role of crop models in addressing climate change’s impact on agriculture, an introduction to the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer and the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator cropping system models, modeling climate variability and change, uncertainty and risk in agriculture and an introduction to linking crop model outputs to household-level economic models using the General Algebraic Modeling System.

“It is clear to me how and where I can use the tools in my work. Now the challenge is to bring in more crop varieties, particularly wheat, into the models,” stated Brian Isabirye, Leader of the Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition Theme at the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Uganda.

Gideon Kruseman and Kindie Tesfaye Fantaye award course completion certificates to participants. Photo: CIMMYT

Gideon Kruseman and Kindie Tesfaye Fantaye award course completion certificates to participants. Photo: CIMMYT

The workshop was held as part of CIMMYT’s collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project, both led by the International Food Policy Research Institute. Participants came from ASARECA, the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) and national research institutes and universities from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.


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