Sense, Predict, Act

Global agricultural monitoring for enhancing food security

Food Security Challenge

To nourish the growing global population, world agricultural output must increase by 70% according to the FAO. Most of this growth in population will occur in developing countries where agriculture (particularly smallholder agriculture) is the primary source of livelihood.

However, agricultural productivity growth has been slowing around the world and climate uncertainty and weather extremes highlight increased risks to food security as well as livelihoods. According to the World Bank, without clear adaptation strategies, crop yields will diminish by 16 % globally and up to 28% in Africa in the next fifty years.

In addition to the longer term challenges, nearly a billion people around the world are undernourished and in recent years, food prices have risen sharply and global poverty levels have increased. Intense competition on input resources (such as land, water, energy, etc.) for agriculture from other uses (urbanization, industry, etc.) as well as the significant environmental impacts from agriculture further exacerbates this challenge.

Sustainable intensification and forewarning of future crop availability and near-term crop failures are therefore critical towards addressing food security.

Our Focus

An integrated approach is required to ensure that agriculture and agricultural productivity growth is sustainable from an environmental, societal and livelihood perspective.

This initiative draws on our activities in other domains (such as land, water, energy) to develop such an approach with the primary purpose of addressing near-term and long-term food security.

Global agricultural monitoring is primarily focused on understanding the following three core areas of focus:

  1. History of agricultural land and land use changes for a geographical area under consideration. This history will primarily be utilized to provide insights on which locations are most suited for agricultural intensification taking into account their historical productivity, susceptibility to natural disasters, long-term environmental impact, etc.
  2. Production at risk in a given location, which can be aggregated to provide insights to determine prevention/mitigation steps to be taken to minimize impacts
  3. Changes in agricultural production (including shifts in harvest) at a given location that can be aggregated to help provide insights on how food supply could get impacted for a community, province, country, region, or the world