Local rainfall forecast knowledge across the globe used for agricultural decision-making

Spyridon Paparrizos*, Emmanuel M.N.A.N. Attoh, Samuel J. Sutanto, Nina Snoeren, Fulco Ludwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The agriculture sector is vital to the world's economy and weather and climate are key drivers that affect the productivity and profitability of agricultural systems. At the same time, weather-related risks pose significant challenges to farmers' livelihoods. Although scientific weather forecast (SFK) is available, many farmers, especially in the Global South, have limited access to this information, and they rely on local forecast knowledge (LFK) to make farming decisions. Many studies also recognize the value of combining both forecasting systems; yet, unlike SFK which is readily available, indicators for LFK needs to be collected first. Therefore, this study identifies and documents the spatial distribution of LFK use for agriculture across the globe through a systematic literature review. Results show that a high number of LFK regions with a total of around 1350 local environmental indicators were found in Africa and Asia and less in South and North America. The low usability of scientific weather forecasts is perceived as the main reason farmers use LFK instead of SFK, yet the accessibility of LFK both for scientists and users, needs to be improved. Indicators based on animals and meteorology appeared to be more frequently used for weather predictions than plant- and astronomy-based indicators. Digitalizing the LFK inventory and collecting more detailed information about the regions where LFK was identified could promote and foster research on integrating scientific and local forecasting systems. This study will draw attention to the importance of LFK in weather forecasting, maintain this knowledge and enhance it.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165539
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023


  • Agriculture
  • Environmental indicators
  • Local forecast knowledge
  • Rainfall forecasts
  • Small-holder farmers


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