Ghana’s first training event on the CCAFS Regional Agricultural Forecasting Tool (CRAFT) was held in its capital city, Accra, during 25-29 October to strengthen national capacity for in-season yield forecasting, assessing impacts of climate fluctuations on crop production and projecting such impacts in the future. Organized by the University of Ghana, University of Florida and ICRISAT, the workshop conveyed the basic concepts of gridded crop simulations, described algorithms used for regional yield forecasting and the CRAFT toolbox architecture, and involved hands-on exercises for assessing risk and generating in-season yield forecasts.
CRAFT is a framework for running multi-crop model ensembles in gridded simulations for yield forecasting, agricultural risk analysis and climate impact studies. An initiative of the CGIAR research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CRAFT is currently being developed and maintained by the University of Florida. A key feature of the framework is its ability to seamlessly integrate leading crop models such as DSSAT, APSIM, SarraH and INFOCROP with seasonal climate forecasts that are statistically downscaled with the Climate Predictability Tool (CPT).
Another feature is the ability to run spatial simulations down to the district level, which is essential for predicting production shortfalls or gluts with adequate detail for government intervention and market regulation. This functionality will be important for the transformation of food systems and ushering in food sovereignty in the post-COVID era, with more efficient and competitive national value chains, shorter and more circular agricultural food circuits, and a lower dependence on expensive food imports.
One emerging user of CRAFT is the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet). As part of the CASCAID project, GMet was the first national meteorological agency in West Africa to successfully implement the ENACTS initiative, which provides blended, gridded station-satellite data directly exploitable by CRAFT. During the workshop, Mr. Eric Asuman, Director General, GMet, reiterated the agency’s strong interest in CRAFT and its commitment to prepare the first operational 2022 maize yield forecast for the West African Climate Outlook Forum using CRAFT. GMet, ICRISAT, Manobi Africa and University of Florida also discussed the industrialization of frugal, recyclable agCelerant IoT rain gauges, a CASCAID-supported innovation by project partner Manobi Africa.
The workshop brought together 25 participants from Georgia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, the USA and Zimbabwe. In addition to the University of Ghana and GMet, other key participating institutions included the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI), IDEMS-Ghana, and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) which was represented by seven of its alumni.
The deployment of CRAFT reported here was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) project titled, “Capacitating African Stakeholders with Climate Advisories and Insurance Development (CASCAID)”, and by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through a grant, implemented by Alliance Bioversity-CIAT with AR4D support from the European Commission for the year 2019. Building Livelihoods and Resilience to Climate Change in East and West Africa: Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) for large-scale implementation of Climate-Smart Agriculture, is a three-year project funded by the European Commission and IFAD.
University of Ghana, University of Florida and ICRISAT are partnering in the effort.