Verification of Seasonal Climate Forecast Towards Hydro-Climatic Information Needs of Rice Farmers in Northern Ghana

Emmanuel Nyadzi*, S.E. Werners, Robbert Biesbroek, Hoang Phi Long, W.H.P. Franssen, F. Ludwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa face many difficulties when making farming decisions due to unexpected changes in weather and climate. Access to hydroclimatic information can potentially assist farmers to adapt. This study explores the extent to which seasonal climate forecasts can meet hydroclimatic information needs of rice farmers in northern Ghana. First, 62 rice farmers across 12 communities were interviewed about their information needs. Results showed that importance of hydroclimatic information depends on the frequency of use and farming type (rain-fed, irrigated, or both). Generally, farmers perceived rainfall distribution, dam water level, and temperature as very important information, followed by total rainfall amount and onset ranked as important. These findings informed our skills assessment of rainfall (Prcp), minimum temperature (Tmin), and maximum temperature (Tmax) from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF-S4) and at lead times of 0 to 2 months. Forecast bias, correlation, and skills for all variables vary with season and location but are generally unsystematic and relatively constant with forecast lead time. Making it possible to meet farmers’ needs at their most preferred lead time of 1 month before the farming season. ECMWF-S4 exhibited skill in Prcp, Tmin, and Tmax in northern Ghana except for a few grid cells in MAM for Prcp and SON for Tmin and Tmax. Tmin and Tmax forecasts were more skillful than Prcp. We conclude that the participatory coproduction approach used in this study provides better insight for understanding demand-driven climate information services and that the ECMWF-S4 seasonal forecast system has the potential to provide actionable hydroclimatic information that may support farmers’ decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
JournalWeather, climate and society
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

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