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CMRA 2021 Summer School

Updated on Jun 23, 2020 806 views
CMRA 2021 Summer School

Modelling approaches for climate risk and climate change adaptions in the context of sustainable intensification in semi-arid West Africa

The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) invite applications for an international summer school that will take place at the ICRISAT regional headquarter in Bamako, Mali.

Applications are invited from highly-motivated middle stage PhD students and postdocs from West Africa and Germany with a background in agricultural or environmental sciences and some prior modelling experience.

The summer school aims to enhance awareness of the state of the art in crop modelling for addressing climate risk and sustainable intensification among the region’s next generation of researchers and agricultural policy makers. It is designed to provide students with a broad overview of system’s analysis, best practices in model application climate change impact assessments, as well as emerging applications and challenges for crop modelling to support sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems. Students will be equipped with knowledge and skills to use crop models in the design and assessment of resilient and productive cropping systems.

Offered in French and English, the course will combine lectures with international experts, together with hands on tutorials, and group work and discussions. The maximum number of participants is 26.


The summer school will be held from February 21-28, 2021 (COVID-19 dependent back-up date: September 5–12, 2021)


International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bamako, Mali

ICRISAT headquarters


All presentations, made available by lecturers, and selected photos are posted on the website (log in required).


The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) is the organizer of the summer school. ZALF has long-term research experience on addressing issues related to water, energy, soil, and sustainable agriculture. In particular, it is well-known for its interdisciplinary group of scientists who employ theoretical as well as advanced methodological tools in analyzing agricultural landscapes.

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is the hosting institution of the summer school. ICRISAT has significant expertise in cropping system analysis and communicating scientific results.

Course description


The summer school aims to enhance awareness and appreciation of the state of the art in crop modelling for addressing climate risk and sustainable intensification among the region’s next generation of researchers and agricultural policy makers. The training will emphasize recent model developments, methodologies for analysis, as well as key limitations in their use and emerging complimentary data driven approaches. Best practices for stakeholder engagement, study design, data processing, scenario formulation, model selection, model parameterization, and uncertainty analysis will be explored. A second aim is to provide students with experience in designing projects considering transdisciplinary perspectives on how and to which extent cropping system models can be applied for impact in decision making processes and sustainability outcomes for a range of actors.

Course format

The course will make use of a balance of lectures with international experts; group discussions with peers and lecturers; model demonstrations and applied tutorial exercises; and group work in designing and implementing model-based analyses and student presentations. Lectures will be given in either French or English with translations provided for the other.

Learning outcomes for students

After completing the course, students will be able to:
  Mali farm, peanut

  • apply system analysis concepts to study of cropping systems;
  • explain basics of CSM structure, parameterization and input data requirements and special requirements for climate impact studies;
  • select appropriate models as demanded by their particular research question, considering tradeoffs between process representation, data availability and error propagation;
  • design model-based climate change impact assessments, including scenarios, adaptations, calibration, uncertainty and sensitivity analysis and output data analysis methods;
  • understand methods for calibration and evaluation, uncertainty and sensitivity analyses, output analysis to assess risk, adaptation potential and climate impacts;
  • have a broad understanding of both state of the art and emerging issues in crop system analysis

Expected results

It is intended that the summer school will lead to a number of important outcomes for the region, including:

  • enhanced capacity of regional researchers to drive the region’s research agenda and developmental processes;
  • improved capacity for collecting, monitoring, analysis and dissemination of agriculture information at the national and local levels, including how to integrate climate information in efforts to design sustainable and productive systems;
  • strengthened basis for a West African interdisciplinary network of crop modelers with institutional and individual partners mobilized to formalize a network;
  • increased number of young West African scientists have international collaborators and awareness of state of art in CSMs’ developments and methods;
  • strengthened capacity in the region’s agricultural, meteorological and educational organizations through training scientists on the use systems analysis approaches;
  • higher likelihood of publications by West African scientists in high impact journals attracting international recognition, funding opportunities and collaboration offers;
  • enhanced adaptive capacity in the region with more internationally visible, highly trained and networked researchers at the fore-front of climate risk and impact assessments;
  • and improved CSMs, methods, and scientists to support sustainable intensification and risk management enabled by publication of a position paper resulting from the summer school


Interested PhD and post-doc researchers should send their application documents by e-mail (1 single pdf-file, max. 3 MB) to Contact. Please include in your application:

    • our curriculum vitae (2 pages max.);
    • cover letter (1 page);
    • brief statement explaining your motivation to participate and what you can contribute to CMRA2021’s transdisciplinary, problem-solving oriented group work (1 page);
    • contact information of two references;
    • scan of PhD degree or proof of enrollment in PhD studies.

Applications can be made in English or French. The application language will be used to place selected candidates in project and tutorial groups.

Since we aim to have a good representation of women and men in the course, we strongly encourage you to indicate your gender in your application.

Applications will only be considered when sent to Contact. Closing date for receiving applications is July 1st, 2020.


If you have any questions please contact Dr. Heidi Webber (Contact) or Dr. Nadine Worou (Contact) with cc to Contact.

Target Group

Current PhD students & postdocs with an academic background in crop physiology; agronomy; agricultural engineering; soil science; environmental science, or similar with experience working with smallholder farmers in semi-arid West Africa are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be West African or German nationals, or currently study in Germany and conduct research in West Africa. Preference will be given to candidates with experience using modelling tools, or in applying quantitative methods in regions with significant climatic risks for agriculture such as the Sahel and Sudan-Savanah regions.


Travel costs, visa fees (if required), food and accommodation will be covered for successful applicants.

See the Complete Details Here

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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