In 2022, severe floods caused by heavy rains devastated Nigeria, resulting in a significant drop in the country’s annual maize and rice production. As climate-related disasters increase globally, Nigeria and other nations are turning to technology to bolster their agricultural sectors. Satellite-based crop monitoring solutions, such as the CropWatch innovation cooperation programme, offer promising advancements in this area.
Launched in 2021 by UNCTAD, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Alliance of International Science Organizations, the CropWatch programme aids 14 developing countries across Africa and Asia in agricultural monitoring for the advancement of the SDG goal of zero hunger. The initiative utilizes satellite data to monitor crop growth and climate-related conditions, ultimately improving farm management and decision-making.
Nigerian experts, trained through the CropWatch programme, are adapting the platform to the local context. Rakiya Babamaaji, an assistant director at Nigeria’s national space research and development agency (NASRDA), highlighted the impact of stable crop monitoring in improving the agricultural sector’s decision-making process.
The CropWatch programme demonstrates the power of South-South cooperation in overcoming challenges faced by developing countries. Participating countries gain access to valuable technology and training, enabling them to monitor crops without additional long-term investments in storage and computation.
Mauritius, a small island nation that imports 75% of its food, also benefits from the CropWatch programme. The system assists Mauritius in enhancing early warning mechanisms, assessing crop damage, and providing aid to affected farmers. Additionally, CropWatch aids in strategic trading by gathering data on crop supply and demand, helping reduce price fluctuations and food waste.
Two regional workshops are planned for 2023 – one in Mauritius in July and another in China in November. These events will bring together policymakers, scientists, and technical experts from participating countries seeking to harness satellite technology for agricultural transformation. More information is available online for countries interested in joining the programme.
CropWatch and similar satellite-based monitoring solutions are proving vital for agricultural resilience in developing countries like Nigeria and Mauritius. These technologies not only help address climate challenges but also improve food security and support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.