Monday, 25 October 2010

AGRISAT WORKSHOP: Earth observation for worldwide agricultural monitoring

13-15 October 2010 AGRISAT WORKSHOP, Brussels. The objective of this workshop was to review the state-of-the-art, the current issues and the way forward in agricultural monitoring systems for the different regions of the world. Key recommendations were formulated in order to improve food security and agricultural production monitoring on a global scale, taking into account policy evolutions, agro-ecosystems diversity and satellite system developments.

It was admitted that agriculture has not been the priority of remote sensing so far.
  • The focus has been on land cover areas for environmental purposes.
  • Also the climate change community is mainly concerned by land cover and not land use.
  • Crop monitoring is mainly focusing on high production countries, not subsistence farming
  • Participants urged for more funding for  subsistence farming’ crop monitoring
  • Remote sensing specialist cannot be expected to responsible for the use of their information up to the level of farmers. They need information intermediaries for this but experience a lack of follow up
  • A separate forum/venue is needed to discuss the recipients’ perspective (dixit Christopher Justice, University of Maryland, USA)
  •  The users’ perspective was not so well represented because a number of persons participate at the Fifth International Conference on Agricultural Statistics (ICAS-V) ( 12-15 October 2010, Kampala, FAO).
  • Only one NGO attended: Action Contre la Faim ACF Espagne-Mali: Erwann FILOL & Frederic HAM
  • The African participants came from Senegal, Sudan, Ethiopia, Niger, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique (BEYE Gora Centre de Suvi Ecologique Senegal;  AZAHRI FARH MAHGOUP Mohamed Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forests Sudan; EL SHEIKH Hassan GMFS Sudan; TULU Mathewos Hunde Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ethiopia; ALFARI Issifou AGHRYMET Niger; AGATSIVA Jaspat Regional Center for Mapping of Resources Development (RCMRD) Kenya; GALU Gideon USGS/FEWS NET Kenya; KORME Tesfaye RCMRD Kenya; SITUMA Charles Department of resource survey and remote sensing Kenya; MBUKWA Christopher Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Malawi; PATRICIO Domingos Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia, Mozambique; DAMELIO Jacopo FAO Zimbabwe

Satellite images with a high and moderate spatial resolution are expected to have a strong development in the coming years. It will become easier to integrate remote sensing data in the policy making and foresight capacity of African Ministries of Agriculture. Remote sensing data are to lead to improved statistical analysis and the creation of information products which allow for easier interpretation. Having reliable figures before harvest is a major challenge. In well organized African countries crop area estimates are generally available a few months after harvest. The management of agricultural policy and food security requires timely and possibly objective agricultural statistics.

Following the presentation of David Radcliffe on “EU Policy framework and (future) challenges: Agriculture and food security for development” there was a discussion on how to stimulate the uptake of Earth Observation (EO) data by other users (non governmental and non research actors). Pathways are to be designed for transitioning from research to operations, targeting information providers and users. Local organizations (ngo, farmer organizations, etc) have not the capacity to generate sophisticated data. It is thus difficult to expect from local stakeholders to generate ground truthing data (verification, calibration and validation of remote sensing data). Universities should partner with non-research stakeholders to clarify the local need for natural resources data.

In the plenary David Radcliffe said that he saw a role for PAEPARD to articulate the demand of non-research stakeholders for EO data. Proposals (ENV.2011.4.1.4-1) should include a strong communication strategy “to get the message down to the farmer organizations”.

The workshop frames under the GMES initiative and is a contribution to the GEO Agricultural Monitoring Task (Ag 0703) which has the goal of improving international coordination on earth observation for enhanced agricultural monitoring. Related blog post: Developing increased EO capacity for better agriculture and forestry management in Africa