The Climate Prediction and Agriculture (CLIMAG) project started ten years ago under the auspices of the Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training (START), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the International Geosphere-Bio-sphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme of Global Environmental Change (IHDP) was based on the increasing capacity to model crop growth and yield coupled with the improving ability of meteorologists to provide short- and medium-term weather forecasts. The CLIMAG Task Force, appointed by the START Scientific Steering Committee, developed a dynamic strategic plan which formed the basis for the First International Workshop on CLIMAG which was held from 27 to 29 September 1999 at WMO in Geneva.

The First International Workshop on CLIMAG considered a number of important issues relating to climate prediction applications in agriculture including capabilities in long-term weather forecasting for agricultural production, down-scaling, scaling-up crop models for climate prediction applications, use of weather generators in crop modeling, economic impacts of shifts in ENSO event frequency and strengths and economic value of climate forecasts for agricultural systems.

Much work has been done on various issues related to CLIMAG since September 1999 when the First International Workshop on CLIMAG was held. The International Research Institute on Climate Prediction (IRI) was engaged in many of the activities envisaged under the original CLIMAG work plan. Regional CLIMAG demonstration projects in South Asia and West Africa made considerable progress. A number of research projects were organized under the David and Lucille Packard Foundation-funded project on climate variability and food security. The AIACC project of START is supporting a number of regional projects dealing with assessment of adaptations to climate change impacts on the agriculture sector. NOAA-OGP has supported a number of other individual research projects.

The goal of the START, WMO and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) sponsored "International Workshop on Climate Prediction and Agriculture - Advances and Challenges" held at WMO, Geneva from 11 to 13 May 2005 was to review the advances made so far in seasonal climate predictions and their applications for management and decision-making in agriculture and identify the challenges to be addressed in the next 5 to 10 years to further enhance operational applications of climate predictions in agriculture, especially in the developing countries. Specific objectives of the workshop were:

■ to summarize/synthesize the current status of seasonal climate predictions and their applications to small holder agriculture in different parts of the world (with emphasis on advances since the 1999 CLIMAG workshop);

■ to identify the ways and means to promote the more active use of seasonal to inter-annual climate forecasts in agricultural planning and operations for the benefit of smallholder agriculture and rural livelihoods in developing countries;

■ to develop an effective strategy for the communication and coordination of climate applications to a broader network of users at all levels i.e. agricultural education and research, agricultural extension and farming community (with some emphasis on the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR));

■ to discuss the ways of promoting regional agrometeorological research in order to provide an improved understanding of the interactions between climate processes and their complex linkages with agricultural production and food security.

Altogether there were 15 sessions (including the opening and closing session) in the workshop during which 18 invited papers were presented addressing the different specific objectives of the workshop. All the participants in the workshop were engaged in discussions on these papers and developed several useful recommendations for all organizations involved in promoting climate prediction and applications in agriculture, in particular in the developing countries.

Nine of the invited papers are appearing in a special supplement of Climate Research journal and a summary of all these papers is given in the first chapter of this volume. This volume includes eight other invited papers presented at the workshop as well as 18 papers presented by the participants in the David and Lucille Packard Foundation-funded project on climate variability and food security at the "Synthesis Workshop of the Advanced Institute on Climatic Variability and Food Security" held prior to the International Workshop describing the national case studies on CLIMAG.

As editors of this volume, we would like to thank all the authors for their efforts and for their cooperation in bringing out this volume in time. We are most grateful to Mr. M. Jarraud, the Secretary-General of WMO, Dr. Roland Fuchs, Director of the International START Secretariat and Dr. Steve Zebiak, Director General of The International Research Institute for Climate and Society for their continuous support and encouragement.

Mannava V. K. Sivakumar James Hansen Editors

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