FAO Land Cover Digital Earth Africa

Establishment of a prototype Earth Observations-assisted land cover and national crop monitoring system for production of official national agricultural statistics on crop acreage.

The Challenge

National Statistics Offices (NSOs) in developing countries frequently face limited resources to collect, analyse and disseminate agricultural statistics on a regular basis. Earth Observation (EO) data is an ideal solution and opportunity for NSOs to fill this gap and strengthen their capacity to generate crop statistics at national and subnational levels in a timely manner. However, there are technical barriers to the uptake of EO data such as access, storage, pre-processing; and analysis is very demanding. To overcome technical barriers and accelerate innovation under the Hand-in-Hand (HiH) initiative, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) established this collaboration with FrontierSI and Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa) to develop an open-source user-friendly solution to generate national land cover and crop maps using data and services provided by DE Africa.  


FrontierSI collaborated with Digital Earth Africa and FAO. 

The Solution

The scope of the collaboration was to develop a prototype tool to assist countries in Africa and local organisations to facilitate the mapping of land cover, crop boundaries and types (thus facilitating crop acreage estimations). This led to enhanced capacities in two HiH countries in Africa for monitoring crops acreage and production, with the generation of: 

  • land cover maps 
  • crop type maps 
  • crop field boundaries 
  • crop area indicators and crop acreage statistics 
  • Python notebooks developed to generate the maps and statistics in the DE Africa platform, adapting methods and algorithms in collaboration with FAO and DE Africa and with active participation of country users. Training tools are delivered to the country users to use the developed tools.   

The deliverables directly benefited the HiH initiative at four levels:  

  1. New, up-to-date disaggregated national data on land cover and crops available in the HIH geospatial platform, 
  2. Capacity in producing national land cover maps and crop maps for countries in Africa through the regional DE Africa platform and dedicated regional workshops 
  3. Capacity built internally in the HiH FAO team in the use of EO data 
  4. Countries having increased capacity for planning based on the availability of national geospatial datasets. 

To learn more about this project, contact us at contact@frontiersi.com.au or Earth Observation Data Scientist, Lavender Liu, at lliu@frontiersi.com.au