The importance of crop intelligence for food security
"More than a quarter of a billion people will suffer from acute hunger by the end of the year. That’s 265 million people in low and middle-income countries, up from a current 135 million" (WFP)
Stark figures released by World food programme (WFP) state how the coronavirus pandemic will see more than a quarter of a billion people suffering acute hunger by the end of the year. COVID-19 is triggering a recession ultimately affecting the livelihoods and income of many. Furthermore networks relied upon for trading are being disrupted playing a key part in this all.The UN is calling for urgent action to be taken. Agricultural production has contracted, and food supply chains have been negatively affected, says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which have all impacted food security.
But what can be done?
The FAO have outlined what must be done in their report titled "COVID-19 global economic recession: Avoiding hunger must be at the centre of the economic stimulus"In this they detail the 2 short term necessities that must happen in all countries of the world.
1. Firstly, by maintaining food availability at all times by means of ensuring that the food supply chain is kept active and is without interruption.
2. Secondly,and most importantly, measures must be put immediately into place to ensure that disrupted economic activity in all supply chains in general, and in food supply chains in particular,which are already creating a massive drop in monthly incomes with which the poorest and most vulnerable populations cannot cope on their own, does not worsen people’s access to food.
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it
Measuring and assuring food security has never been more important. Crop intelligence is becoming more vital in ensuring food security and the sustainability of food supply chains.
The innovative GSI CropNow system offers a new way to continuously monitor critical elements of the food supply chain using satellites as the data input source. Having access to this crop intelligence allows for better and more timely decision making. Spotting crop health problems earlier in the growing season across an entire region, for example, enables parametric insurance providers to rapidly evaluate and release funds to farmers sooner, when it can have maximum effect on sustaining their livelihoods.
GSI CropNow map showing crop health of villages during the growing season across a 250,000 hectare area
CropNow provides up to date crop analytics using the most recent satellite data sets for a wide range of applications spanning fields, villages, regions and at national level:
crop recognition, emergence and coverage
base lining and comparing current season performance and farming methods with previous seasons
crop harvest and provenance reconciliation
parametric crop insurance and claim validation
biomass feedstock discovery and measurement for cleaner energy programs
sustainable farming and land use practices across suppliers in the the supply chain
Why sustainable land use matters
The globe's land surface totals 13.4 billion hectares. At present 11 percent (1.5 billion ha) is used in crop production (arable land and land under permanent crops). There remains some 2.7 billion hectares with crop production potential suggesting that there is still scope for further expansion of agricultural land.
However this expansion of natural resource utilisation needs to be sustainable. Ensuring it does not harm people, habitats and the environment. As a result, there is a perception in some quarters, that there is no more, or very little, land to bring under cultivation.
The role of crop intelligence will continue to grow in importance to help assure sustainable land use decisions and investments in natural resources.