AICCRA and other project initiatives help strengthen agricultural modelling experts in sub-Saharan Africa to cope with climate risks

An intensive five-day training workshop held in Saly (Senegal) from 4 to 10 December 2023 highlighted the importance of building the capacity of crop modelling experts to deal with climate risks.

The event, entitled "Developing Crop Modelling Experts Towards Climate Risk and Adaptation Strategies in Sub-Sahara Africa," was organized in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), ILVO-Belgium (a research institute for agriculture, fisheries and food) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The workshop played a crucial role in enhancing the skills of the 30 participants representing various institutions and structures. Focusing on the AquaCrop model and climate data analysis, the event combined theoretical lectures with practical sessions, providing an in-depth understanding of crop simulation and its policy implications in the face of climate change.

Funding for the workshop was provided by the Flemish government via the STRATADAPT-Mali project, as well as by two CGIAR initiatives: Accelerating the Impact of Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) led by ILRI in Senegal and ClimBeR - Building Systemic Resilience Against Climate Variability and Extremes supported by ICARDA through WP3.

Session presenting different models including AquaCrop developed by the FAO

Despite its potential for guaranteeing water and crop productivity, the AquaCrop tool, developed by the FAO, remains underused in agriculture in West Africa. Madina Diancoumba from ICRISAT stressed the need to overcome this challenge, which is linked to the limited number of experts in the region.

At the opening session, Pierre Sibiry Traoré, ICRISAT's representative in Senegal, explained that :

the workshop aimed to develop the capacity of regional partners to use the AquaCrop model efficiently, while highlighting its value in data-poor environments.

Nadine Worou, scientific coordinator of AICCRA Senegal, stressed the importance of strengthening collaboration between NARES partners and researchers in the region for the benefit of farming communities. She encouraged the dissemination of the knowledge acquired at the workshop.

Address by Dr Folorunso Akinseye of ICRISAT-AICCRA highlighting the impact of the workshop and raising users' awareness of the importance of AquaCrop in reducing climate risks.

As a tool for simulating water yield response to different crops, AquaCrop is well suited to climatic conditions where water is a limiting factor for agricultural production. It combines balance, precision, simplicity, and robustness. The model uses a small number of explicit parameters and mostly intuitive input data that can be determined using simple methods. AquaCrop was demonstrated to study the effects of climate change which can adapted to the West African context. The CLIMTAG, a digital platform developed and presented by Francisco Pereira from VITO would further facilitate agro-climatic planning in the context of climate change.

Folorunso Akinseye underlined the impact of the workshop in raising awareness of the importance of AquaCrop in reducing climate risks and anticipating challenges.

The event brought together some thirty participants from West Africa and European institutions, creating a fruitful platform for collaboration between regional players.


Akinsey Folorunso, Scientist - Agronomy and Agro Climatology, AICCRA Senegal and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) 

Nadine WorouScientific Coordinator, AICCRA Senegal and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Lamine Diedhiou, Communication Officer, AICCRA Senegal and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)