SBA Description Agriculture

Statement of Need

There are approximately 800 million people in the World who are chronically exposed to hunger or malnutrition. Moreover, most of these people are found in developing countries in Asia (62%), Africa (22%), Latin America and the Caribbean (7%) and the Near East and northern Africa (4%). The 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) agreed that the number of hungry people should be reduced by half by the year 2015.
The conditions for achieving short-term food security over 1-5 years vary by region. In the African sub-continent, where processes of desertification, highly variable climatic conditions and civil unrest have limited the achievement of sustainable increases in food production, there remain significant constraints to achieving the targets set for reducing the number of hungry and food-insecure. This is despite the fact that unused land of a good quality for agriculture is available in many countries. Nonetheless, there is emerging evidence that desertification is a major issue due to misuse of land. Although GEOSS is primarily global in scope, the specific issues have direct benefit to agriculture planners, policy makers and technicians who can derive useful information for applications at regional and national levels.

Vision and How GEOSS will help

The vision is to have a truly global poverty and food monitoring, land use mapping and information service that will enable sustainable development within countries and allow international organizations to plan their activities. This involves developing effective national and regional capacity to use Earth Observation data in local, national and regional agriculture, rangelands, forestry, and fishery sectors. It requires comprehensive socioeconomic data that is disaggregated and geo-referenced at a pixel level suitable for describing agricultural production.
One element of such a system will be operational and validated drought early warning systems that reach to the level of the individual farmer in food-insecure regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A second will be an on-time monitoring and information system for events such as fire, forest conversion, forest concession management, crop yield, land degradation and desertification. A third is the need for periodic large-scale integrated assessments of land and water resources at a high resolution that supports sustainable agriculture (e.g. irrigated land, land degradation and desertification, aquaculture expansion, land fragmentation). Underpinning this is a need for a set of comprehensive and validated global products for land cover and land use.
Foremost in importance among the products needed for sustainable agriculture are those related to land cover, land use, and the associated socio-economic data. However, biological factors such as pollinators, wild relatives of domestic species, invasive species and pests are significant influences on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. All of this information must have known accuracies and be geospatially referenced, in order that it can be integrated with data from other sources.
There is a need for all relevant agencies to build an end-to-end process of data collection, analysis, product generation and decision making. This should include strengthening the capacity of developing regions to take up the existing flow of Earth Observation data and to generate relevant products. To support this, there is a need for international standards for registering and exchanging geospatial data and information. Once established, these facilities can provide long-term support to the re-analysis of data archives relating to land cover, vegetative cover and other types to generate “change” products that facilitate understanding of the effects of global forces on sustainable agriculture.

For more information regarding this SBA, please consult the “10-Year Implementation Plan Reference Document by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)”, available at: