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GEOGLAM Crop Monitor For Early Warning

Early Warning
Project Description

The Group on Earth Observations ( developed its Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative in response to the growing calls for improved agricultural information. GEOGLAM was endorsed by the G20 Heads of States’ Declaration (Cannes, November, 2011), when GEOGLAM was tasked to "coordinate satellite monitoring observation systems in different regions of the world in order to enhance crop production projections and weather forecasting data." Within this framework, GEOGLAM developed the Crop Monitor reports, which provide monthly, qualitative global crop condition assessments agreed upon by agricultural monitoring experts from around the world. These Crop Monitor reports support the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) market monitoring activities, which were also mandated by the G20 in November 2011. The Crop Monitor for Early Warning (CM4EW) is an international, transparent multi source, consensus assessment of crop growing conditions, status and agro-climatic conditions which are likely to impact global production and works to exchange information, build consensus and reduce uncertainty in countries most vulnerable to food insecurity to ultimately strengthen agricultural decision making.  This activity grew out of the successful Crop Monitor for AMIS (Agricultural Market Information System), which provides operational monthly crop condition assessments that reflect and international consensus, for the primary production and export countries of the world.  The Crop Monitor for Early Warning brings together international, regional, and national organizations monitoring crop conditions within countries at risk of food insecurity to develop timely consensus assessments of crop conditions that are published monthly in coordination with the Crop Monitor for AMIS and focus on the main food security crops for each region (barley, beans, cassava, groundnut, maize, millet, rice, sorghum, teff and wheat). 

Figure 1: AMIS countries as compared to the countries within the Crop Monitor for Early Warning.
Figure 1: AMIS countries as compared to the countries within the Crop Monitor for Early Warning.



Many organizations concerned with food security in Countries at Risk monitor crop growing conditions as part of their early warning activities.  They operate at global, regional, national and sub-national scales, and are often confronted with data and information that is less than complete.  Typically, they make the most of a combination of direct observations, reports from the field, and indirect methods of satellite remote sensing and environmental modeling.  Many of the Countries at Risk are monitored by more than one organization, each with its own combination of available data, tools, information and professional contacts.  Given this situation, there is much to be gained by collaboration among the organizations to cross-check their crop condition assessments with one another.  The reduction of uncertainty and achievement of consensus help to strengthen confidence in decisions to commit resources for mitigation of acute food insecurity and support for resilience and development programs.
The University of Maryland supports and coordinates the monthly collaborative production of the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor for Early Warning in close collaboration with FEWS NET and the international community.  The initiative is being undertaken by partners including USGS/FEWS NET, WFP, FAO, ARC, Asia-RiCE, MESA, ICPAC, MALF, OPM, and the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) and is expanding to include regional centers as well as Ministries of Agriculture.  The CM4EW categorizes the growing conditions of principal crops on a simple scale, using maps, charts and brief narratives to summarize the status of crops in countries and regions of the developing world.

The crop condition bulletins are published monthly, reflecting a consensus of the international community, and facilitate exchanges and dialogues on conditions in countries at risk of food insecurity.  The CM4EW bulletin consists of text and graphical representation of crop conditions broken down by region and crops of interest.  The graphics consist of maps showing a synthesis of crop conditions or individual crops indicating the crop condition and identifying the drivers (climatic and/or socioeconomic) of crop conditions less than favourable. In addition, end of season maps are produced to reflect final conditions.   Crop specific pie charts are included to accompany the maps and to provide additional production weighted information.  Along with the text these products convey a simple to understand regional and global overview of crop conditions as well as an, in-depth breakdown of each country’s current situation with regards to their primary food security crops and the potential for production shortfalls. 
The first issue of the CM4EW bulletin was published in February of 2016, and in the short time since its launch, this activity has already proven to be of great value, providing timely, clear, and reliable information. As an example, during the devastating southern Africa droughts its crop assessments were cited in many news articles, press releases and reports, including the joint statement by FEWS NET, EC JRC, FAO and WFP. In addition, the South African government used the CM4EW assessments to aid their decisions on food imports and distribution in order to address the regional food crisis.

Figure 1. Crop condition map synthesizing information for all Crop Monitor for Early Warning crops as of February 28th. Crop conditions over the main growing areas are based on a combination of inputs including remotely sensed data, ground observations, field reports, national, and regional experts. Regions that are in other than favourable conditions are labeled on the map with a symbol representing the crop(s) affected.
Figure 2. End of season crop condition map synthesizing information over the main growing regions in southern Africa as of May 28th 2016.  Crop conditions are based on a combination of inputs including remotely sensed data, ground observations, field reports, national and regional experts.  Crops that finished the season in other than favourable are shown on the map
Figure 3. End of season crop production chart as of May 28th 2016, where each slice represents a country’s share of total regional production. The proportion within each national slice is colored according to the crop conditions within a specific growing area; grey indicates that the respective area is out of season. Sections within each slide are weighted by the sub-national production statistics (5-year average) of the respective country. The section within each national slice also accounts for multiple cropping seasons (i.e. spring and winter wheat). When conditions are other than favourable, icons are added that provide information on the key climatic drivers affecting conditions.


Project personnel

Inbal Becker-Reshef     PI
Chris Justice                 Co-PI
Christina Justice            Implementation team
Brian Barker                  Implementation team
Mike Humber                 Implementation team
Antonio Sanchez           Implementation team
Estefania Puricelli          Collaborator 
Alyssa Whitcraft             Collaborator
Catherine Nakalembe    Collaborator 
Patricia Oliva                  Collaborator
Ritvik Sahajpal               Collaborator

Point of contact
Inbal Becker-Reshef