How seasonal forecasting reaches African farmers

Published on 17 October 2019 by Tamara Lancel

Seasonal forecasts are issued by various centres worldwide, including the ECMWF. Weather Impact is experienced in bringing this state-of-the-art weather and climate knowledge to smallholder farmers. Currently we are working on operational services on the seasonal time scale. Because of these developments, our colleague Bob Ammerlaan visited the ECMWF annual seminar last month in Reading (UK) to learn more about the current status of seasonal forecasting and to share our expertise. The annual seminar’s theme was “Subseasonal to seasonal forecasting: recent progress and future prospects”.

A well-known issue in weather forecasting is that it is impossible to give an exact forecast for a specific day a month ahead. However, by looking at time averages, there is some predictability in the climate system. Seasonal forecasts give an indication of the weather in a month or season that is a few months ahead, e.g. November is likely to be dryer than normal. In farm management practices, there is a high demand for the seasonal forecasts. Skillful seasonal forecasts can help to choose crop varieties that are optimal for the upcoming growth season.

At the annual seminar, Weather Impact presented a poster on predicting the onset of the rainy season for farmers in Africa. The poster focused on the expertise of Weather Impact: the step from weather data to information at a farmers phone. The poster can be viewed below. Do you want to know more about our services in Africa? Please contact us!