GEO Contributes to UN Resolution on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters

GEOGLAM strengthens global food security & early warning systems

The GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring Flagship Initiative (GEOGLAM) was launched by the Group of Twenty (G20) Agriculture Ministers in Paris, June 2011 as part of the G20 Action Plan on Food Price Volatility. Since 2016, it has broadened the focus to include support for early warning in food insecure regions of the world. GEOGLAM is a global community consisting of over 100 institutions from about 40 nations and a dozen international agencies.

GEOGLAM uses Earth observations to increase market transparency and improve food security by producing and disseminating authoritative, timely, and actionable information on agricultural conditions at national, regional, and global scales. Key GEOGLAM products include the Crop Monitor for major producing nations and the Crop Monitor for Early Warning. These are produced monthly to support the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and international food security organizations.

Since 2013 GEOGLAM has produced monthly global crop condition reports for AMIS and since 2016, an Early Warning Crop Monitor focussing on food insecure regions of the world. In 2019, in response to a request from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), GEOGLAM began producing mid-month reports in regions of emerging concern. So far in 2019 these include Eastern and Southern Africa (Drought and Cyclones), Iran and Iraq (Floods) and in major crop producing regions in the United States (Flood and Delayed Planting).

In recent years GEOGLAM’s attention has turned to the co-development of national agricultural monitoring systems in food insecure regions. The information is trusted and quickly converted to decisions that support proactive policies and programmes because these systems are operated by mandated by national and regional government agencies This has a significant positive impact on food security and we have seen proactive responses save lives and improve outcomes for thousands of people while reducing emergency response costs.

Beyond the impact of the global crop monitors on market transparency and food security, the following impact stories focus on co-development accomplishments of the GEOGLAM community at the national and regional level:

Regional Cropland Assessment & Monitoring Service

 

Several African nations are benefitting from a Regional Cropland Assessment and Monitoring Service.

The Regional Cropland Assessment and Monitoring Service seeks to provide timely information for food security assessments through the development of national and regional crop monitors in East Africa, including Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti and Eritrea.

The crop monitors are helping to streamline data collection and synthesize crop conditions through a combination of field assessments and Earth observation data. Information about crop conditions is supplemented with climate outlook and market information. The resulting maps provide an understanding of crop conditions and drivers of less than favourable conditions, such as droughts and flood coupled with unpredictable rainfall due to climate variability, and changing temperatures which result in poor yields.

The service has been co-developed by SERVIR-Eastern and Southern Africa from the Regional Centre For Mapping Resource For Development (RCMRD), College Park University of Maryland, Kenya State Department of Crops Development, International Society of Precision Agriculture (ICPA), Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Famine Early Warning Network (FEWSNET), using satellite data and products from CHIRPS, LANDSAT 5, LANDSAT 7, LANDSAT 8, MODIS, Sentinel.  

 

Protecting Farmers' Livelihoods Using Satellite Imagery

 

More than half of Kenya’s 52 million citizens work in the agricultural sector, underscoring the important role farming plays in Kenya’s economy and individuals’ livelihoods. Despite the importance of agriculture to the economy, until recently the Government of Kenya had been using outdated cropland maps (from 2000-2001) to conduct food security assessments.

To help address this problem, in 2017, SERVIR–Eastern and Southern Africa at RCMRD worked with the Kenyan State Department of Agriculture to release updated cropland maps that were co-developed with USAID’s FEWS NET — a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity.

The completed cropland maps (or crop masks) provide information on the locations of the major and minor crops being grown, and if rain-fed or irrigation systems are being used. This information allows for rapid identification of changes in crop development, helping the Government of Kenya better plan where to deliver village-level food assistance during droughts, flooding, and other food security crises.

To ensure the long-term availability of updated crop masks, several technical training sessions have been offered to equip key stakeholders in the agricultural sector with the necessary skills for developing updated maps and computing image changes from different periods. The Government of Kenya continues to view agriculture as a priority for national economic development. More accurate, timely, and cost-effective crop masks will help the government meet this objective by improving food security assessments to better protect vulnerable communities and to ensure a strong agricultural sector.

“Participants can now use the technical knowledge gained and apply it directly to their agricultural field work.” Antony Ndubi, RCMRD’s Remote Sensing Expert

Asia-RiCE: Improving agricultural statistics in Cambodia

 

The Cambodian Department of Planning and Statistics (DPS), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) generates national agricultural statistics by aggregating data collected from local offices using a manual reporting system. A more robust and comprehensive process was needed for statistical information generation and DPS needed a method to verify rice crop statistics reported by local offices.

GEOGLAM’s Rice Crop Estimation and Monitoring (Asia-RiCE) team members worked with the DPS to develop a standardized, accurate, cost-efficient and timely method to monitor rice crop area using ALOS-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and machine learning based tools. ALOS-2 SAR data and the INAHOR (International Asian Harvest monitoring system for Rice) crop planted area estimation software was used to create maps on land use/land cover as a baseline, and a prototype validation framework for statistics reported from local offices was developed.

Through an Asian Development Bank Technical Assistance project and SAFE projects under Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, INAHOR was found to produce rice crop maps with mapping accuracies of 80-90%. These maps also found rice planting in unrecognized areas on the borders of lakes and wetlands, and also identified discrepancies in statistics from some districts, which is useful for quality checks and overall improvement of the statistics.

The goal of Asia-RiCE is to foster the widespread use of Earth observations for timely and accurate forecasts of rice production at national, regional, and global scales. As an input to the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor and AMIS Market Monitor, it significantly contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal SDG2 Zero Hunger, by ensuring Cambodia has better information to make decisions in support of food security.

CropWatch Cloud supports food security monitoring in Mozambique through a mobile app

Mozambique faces food insecurity and instability of agricultural production as a result of the vulnerability of the agriculture sector to natural hazards. Ensuring food security requires knowledge of the cropland area, water conditions, crop yield estimation, water availability and other factors.

By providing Mozambique with a tool that can give the prior information about the precipitation or water conditions, combined with agronomic indicators and predicted yield and production, CropWatch Cloud for Mozambique is contributing to better decision making and increased food security. 

The customization of Cropwatch for Mozambique was requested by Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to improve their capacity in crop monitoring and forecasting. The CropWatch Cloud Platform utilizes multi-source satellite imagery, information from weather stations, as well as thousands of in situ data of crop yield measurements, crop practices and crop type information gathered by volunteers via a phone app. The first draft came out in December 2017 and was modified and revised several times after further discussion in April and May 2018. Four different components, CropWatch Processing, CropWatch Explore, CropWatch Analysis, and CropWatch Bulletin subsystems are all required from the local team.

CropWatch uses 19 indicators for crop assessment which can be sorted into four categories of indicators: CropWatch agroclimatic indicators, arable land use intensity indicators, crop condition indicators and crop production indicators. Those indicators were spatially averaged over Mozambique cropland mask and crop type mask for further analysis. Machine learning methods and big data analysis techniques are applied for crop identification and yield prediction by the integration of multiple satellite images, weather station data and crowdsourcing in situ measurements. Local agriculture practices and landscape are considered in the calibrated model in CropWatch Cloud for Mozambique.

A series of technical training sessions for the Mozambican team included training for National and Provincial Departments of the Agriculture and Food Security that were carried out in Maputo and Nampula. After several training workshops, experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Mozambique incorporated findings into the Mozambique National Agro-Meteorological Bulletin in June 2018.

In 2018-2019, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Mozambique used CropWatch Cloud to do crop assessment and for the Mozambique National Agro-Meteorological Bulletin in November, December 2018 and March 2019. Currently, they are working with partners from Zambia, Egypt, Russia, Mongolia, Thailand, and Cambodia on capacity development for crop monitoring. Regional meetings and training workshops are being organized with the World Bank, FAO, and other UN agencies.

             CropWatch training for national and provincial experts of Mozambique September 2018

 

 “We highly appreciate the assistance of CropWatch Cloud Platform for Mozambique which improves our monitoring ability and promotes innovation in agriculture monitoring.” Hiten Jantilal, Chief of Department of Crops and Early Warning, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Mozambique.

“CropWatch Cloud provides very powerful tools that enable us to do crop monitoring and production prediction before the end of the growing season.” Joaquim Tomás, Nampula provincial office of Agriculture and Food Security, Mozambique