The availability of long-lead ENSO-related climate forecasts has led many to speculate that such forecasts may benefit decision making in agriculture. To explore the conditions required for the effective use of climate forecasts, we conducted a pilot study focused on central-eastern Argentina. Historical records showed higher (lower) average precipitation during warm (cold) ENSO events in November-December. However, variability of the precipitation signal within ENSO phases was high. National-level yields of maize, soybeans and sorghum tended to be higher (lower) during warm (cold) events. A field survey was conducted to identify impediments for forecast adoption and learn how to communicate climate information. Most farmers surveyed know about ENSO, with the 1997-1998 event marking a "turning point" in their awareness of the phenomenon. Finally, various modeling approaches were used to explore outcomes of alternative management options (changes in crop management and land allocation) tailored to climate scenarios associated with each ENSO phase. Simulation exercises identified differences in optimal management between ENSO phases. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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