Wednesday, November 4, 2009: 11:45 AM
Convention Center, Room 326, Third Floor
Three main premises often advanced to justify crop modeling include (i) enhancement of agricultural systems understanding via knowledge synthesis, (ii) enhancement of field research by focusing on the major crop-environment interactions and (iii) enhancement of policy formulation and agricultural decision making. We carried out a limited survey on model use within the African context and observed that only the first premise seemed to be somewhat achieved, mainly within the domain of model calibration and validation. In the last 20 years, the continent has seen perhaps more than 100 training workshops in the use of crop models with about 25 participants at each workshop. Yet, of the 13 most popular crop/soil models, not more than 30 journal papers were published using DSSAT, 20 using WOFOST, 20 using APSIM, 20 using CROPWAT and other FAO models, 10 using USLE and 5 or less using EPIC. Less than 10 % of the total publications were by Policy Planners such the Ministries of Agriculture, Science and Environment. Further, not more than 5 Universities offer crop modeling-related curriculum on the continent. Our findings confirm those by earlier reviewers that model application for policy and agricultural planning was very low, unlike the case of many Industrial countries where Regulatory Services such as the EPA apply models for policy formulation and decision implementation. We propose that to minimize the gap between “modelers” and “model users” and enhance model application, agricultural systems modeling must be integrated into the regular post-graduate agriculture training curriculum, as is the case of statistics. Institutions offering modeling curricula need be strengthened and as well, stronger collaborations forged between the Ministries, Research and Training Institutions. Training workshops should focus more on updates and upgrades in modeling rather than attempting to “woo” new converts into crop modeling.