Boosting confidence in farm innovations – Simulating impact with systems modelling tools
Can farm earnings be estimated before doing anything on the ground? A new tool promises to do just that.
Researchers from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia (https://www.csiro.au/) demonstrated the use of Crop Livestock Enterprise Model (CLEM), a systems modelling tool that can simulate outcome scenarios on a farm. Interventions are often modelled before being considered for testing or for implementation on farms. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICRISAT are collaborating in a project that aims to demonstrate the use of modelling in 10 districts across three Indian states. The above demonstration was conducted under the aegis of the project.
“The outcomes of farm-level interventions in highly complex smallholder farming systems are uncertain. Many variables determine the profitability, scope of manpower reduction and eventually, the adoption of an intervention. It is not feasible to try all available options on the farm before finding the right one. Therefore, the need for whole-farm systems modelling tools,” says Dr Shalander Kumar, Principal Scientist, Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD), ICRISAT.
Besides helping scientists and policymakers visualize possible outcomes, systems modelling tools like CLEM and the Integrated Assessment Tool (IAT) which ICRISAT’s modelers currently use, can prove a game changer in convincing farmers to adopt context-specific interventions for increased whole-farm income, says Dr Kumar.
To familiarize ICRISAT and partner scientists with CLEM, a more user-friendly and sophisticated version of the IAT, CSIRO’s Senior Experimental Scientists Dr Di Prestwidge and Ms Alison Liang held a workshop from 19 to 22 October at ICRISAT India. Explaining the model, Dr Prestwidge said CLEM can track farm resources like crop, fodder, livestock, labor, land and even money used in farm-related activities.
Modelers from the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (www.crida.in) also participated in the workshop. In continuation of the exercise, the ISD team organized a hands-on training session for ICRISAT colleagues from Niamey, Niger. Held from 21 October to 2 November, the two-week session aimed to build capacity on whole-farm systems modelling tools for sub-Saharan African locations.