Survey and Synthesis of the Use of Remote Sensing in the Production of Agricultural Statistics for Sub-Saharan Africa


With a desire to improve agricultural monitoring statistics, The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development and Kass Green & Associates seek to understand the current role and future potential of remote sensing for use in the development of cost effective, accurate, timely and sustainable agricultural production and crop statistics for Sub Saharan Africa (SSA).

To gain this understanding we are embarking on an in depth review of past, existing and planned SSA agricultural remote sensing programs and projects to learn more about their:

  • Definitions of agricultural productivity,
  • Methods used and variables measured to produce estimates of agricultural productivity and crop area,
  • Comparison of results from remote sensing verses more standard agricultural monitoring methods,
  • Characteristics of technological and institutional success and lessons learned,
  • Future opportunities for the use of remote sensing in the production of agricultural statistics
  • Cost effectiveness and

Colleagues working on this project include:

  • The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) was established in Nairobi, Kenya in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. It is an intergovernmental organization and currently has 15 contracting member States. The operations of the Centre are funded in part by contributions from its member States and revenue generated from sales of its products and services. The main mandates of the Centre are: Research and Development, Consultancy, Training, Advisory Service and geo-information data dissemination.
  • Kass Green & Associates, a consulting firm providing geospatial strategy, technology and policy research and planning to private, educational, and public organization. In addition to Ms. Green, Associates working on this project include Dr. Allan Falconer, Professor of Geography and the Associate Dean for Corporate Outreach at the College of Science, George Mason University; Mr. Chad Hendrix; Mr. Jeremy Freund, of the Geospatial Innovation Facility at the University of California, Berkeley, and Chris Gingerich and Ellen McCullough of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Summary of work plan:

Providing a “landscape” of the success and lessons learned of the diverse SSA agriculture remote sensing projects and programs requires a systematic characterization of both technological and organizational measures. The survey and synthesis of the use of remote sensing in the production of agricultural statistics for Sub Saharan Africa will be performed through a multi-stage process which will start with the identification and interview, by phone, of 35-50 key scientists and managers regarding agricultural remote sensing projects in SSA (and elsewhere, if applicable). Next, the interview results will be used to develop on-line survey questions and to identify who should be asked to participate in the on-line survey. The on-line survey will reach out to 100-150 individuals to fully characterize past, current, and planned projects related to the use of remote sensing for the development of agricultural statistics for SSA.