The BFAP framework for providing foresight to the South African agricultural sector has been particularly successful in combining the quantitative methods of the integrated modelling system to the more qualitative scenario thinking process. Though it represents a starting point when dealing with foresight, the annual baseline does not constitute a forecast, but rather a benchmark of what could happen under a particular set of assumptions. Inherent uncertainties, including policy changes, weather, and other market variations, ensure that the future is highly unlikely to match baseline projections.
Recognising this fact, BFAP incorporates scenario planning and risk analyses in the process of attempting to understand the underlying risks and uncertainties of agricultural markets. Stochastic modelling at both sector and farm level is used to quantify different scenarios based on key uncertainties in the market, thus providing decision makers with a better understanding of both risk and uncertainty. Quantitative simulation of different strategies further enables optimal decision making regarding policy analysis or investment decisions. Stochastic analyses are not published in the annual baseline, but rather prepared as independent reports on request from clients.
Scenario thinking techniques are based on the identification of key uncertainties in the market. Plausible future scenarios, as well as the implications of these scenarios for decision makers within the agricultural sector, are established. Scenarios are developed in conjunction with clients, which are then simulated through the BFAP modelling system in order to evaluate the results of possible options and strategies. The framework illustrating the combination of scenario thinking and stochastic modelling used to provide foresight on which to base strategic decisions is illustrated diagrammatically below: