UG’s Department of Earth Science Hosts Training Course on Integrated Decision Support System (IDSS)

The Department of Earth Science at the University of Ghana, in partnership with Texas A&M University, has organised a five-day training course on the Integrated Decision Support System (IDSS). 

Trainees were introduced to three models that make up the IDSS, which are integrated to provide a holistic assessment of the impact of alternative interventions in food and agriculture. 

Participants in the training included graduate students and scientists with backgrounds in Economics, Agronomy, Water Resources, Hydrology and Engineering.  

At the opening, Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences underscored the role universities have to play in assisting the country and the Sub-Saharan region to solve problems of climate change. He added, that as a result, additional scientists with relevant training will be needed to ensure access to information as well as careful management and monitoring of water and natural resource use.  

Water is one of the central issues that arise when we consider the impacts of climate change. Farmers across Ghana and West Africa, indeed globally, often say water access is their number one issue. With climate change, weather patterns are changing and rainfall is already less reliable. Rainfed farming alone cannot meet the food needs. In Ghana and the region, water must be utilised to achieve nutritional security. However, irrigation must be developed based on scientific data and analysis to avoid maladaptation,” he said.  

Prof. Onwona-Agyeman then encouraged attendees to regard the training as extremely vital and to fully participate in all sessions. 

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, the Dean of the School of Physical and Mathematics Sciences, Prof. Mark S. Yidana, underscored the significance of the training course, as it provides a platform to discuss the use and relevance of irrigation and other methods in dealing with the effects of climate change. “It is therefore time to make decisions. So, this training does not end here, take full advantage of it to learn and work with it”, he said. 

Ms. Fati Aziz, on behalf of her colleague facilitators, acknowledged the Provost, Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, for emphasising the pressing issues of water scarcity and the need for sustainable irrigation practices in Ghana and beyond. She also stressed that over the past decade, the innovation lab for small-scale irrigation, in collaboration with esteemed partners like Texas A&M University, has revolutionised small-scale irrigation practices through cutting-edge computer models. 

With the generous support of USAID, this project has made significant strides in improving agricultural water management and enhancing food security across West Africa,’ she noted.  

She added that the IDSS training is being held for the sixth time in Ghana, with prior workshops conducted by the CSIR-Water Research Institute in Accra, the University of Cape Coast ( UCC), the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the University for Development Studies (UDS). She expressed her gratitude to the organising committee, led by Dr. Yvonne S. A. Loh, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Earth Science, and her dedicated team, for their efforts in guaranteeing a precisely organised training. 

With the aid of diagrams and illustrations, the facilitators; Mr. Fasikaw Atanaw, Tewodros Assefa, Ms. Fati Aziz and Mr. Jean-Claude Bizimana presented on the three models that make up the IDSS, which are integrated to provide a holistic assessment of the impact of alternative interventions in food and agriculture. 

The first model was the Agricultural Policy/Environmental Extender Model (APEX), which is a farm or field scale model for hydrologists, agronomists, and soil scientists to evaluate crop production and environmental sustainability.  

The second model was the Farm Income Simulator (FARMSIM). This model is a socio-economic model for agricultural economists or people seeking an economic understanding.  

The final model was the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). This model is a watershed scale model for hydrologists, agricultural engineers, and other related water resource professionals. 

There was also a hands-on demonstration of all three models. 

Participants received certificates at the closing ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2023. 

Also present were other lecturers, faculty members and participants from University of Ghana, UCC, KNUST and UDS.