Assessing the Economic Value of El Niño-Based Seasonal Climate Forecasts for Smallholder Farmers in Zimbabwe
This study demonstrates the potential value of seasonal forecasts to smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe—the majority of whom often suffer severely from drought impacts. Using simulation models to compare crop yield performances of farmers with and without forecasts, results indicate that: during a “drought year”, farmers with forecasts (WF) record higher yield gains (28 %) compared to those without forecasts (WOF); during a “neutral year” WF farmers obtain higher yield gains (20 %) than those WOF; however, during a “good year”, results show no yield gains as WOF farmers perform better. This suggests that during a good year, forecasts may not have a significant impact. Using gross margin analysis, results show WF farmers realizing higher returns (US$0.14/ha) during a drought than WOF farmers who net a negative return (−US$0.15/ha).To conclude, El Niño-based seasonal forecasts could play an important role as loss mitigation measures particularly during a drought.
KeywordsSeasonal climate forecasts Smallholder farmers El Niño Economic value Drought With forecasts and without forecasts
This paper received support from the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA), University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Swedish International Development Authority. The author benefited from various comments provided by CEEPA resource personnel. In addition, the author acknowledges support received from Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA). Finally, special thanks to Dr. Sebinasi Dzikiti of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR Stellenbosch, Cape Town), who offered technical expertise on the DSSAT (Decision Support System for Agricultural Technology) program.
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