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Enhancing Food Security in AFRIcan AgriCULTUral Systems with the Support of REmote Sensing

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - AfriCultuReS (Enhancing Food Security in AFRIcan AgriCULTUral Systems with the Support of REmote Sensing)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2022-10-31

According to FAO, ending hunger and malnutrition is one of the greatest challenges ahead for Africa. The continent has more than half of the world's unused arable land, yet it remains vulnerable to food insecurity. Progress has certainly been made in the area of food security over the last years, yet, it has been uneven across countries and regions of Africa. Food production in Africa has unique characteristics that differ from other forms of production, random phenomena with high degree of spatial and temporal variability can adversely affect crop and livestock production. To help combat the threatening pressures of climate change there is an urgent need for accurate and consistent information for well-informed risks assessment and decision making and governance at multiple levels.

AfriCultuReS (https://africultures.eu/) was a 60-month H2020 Research and Innovation project. AfriCultuReS aimed to design, implement and demonstrate an agricultural monitoring and early warning system to support decision making for the enhancement of food security in Africa. The project pushed forward the services provided by other systems, throughout the innovative fusion of multi-source data; Earth Observation (EO) and in-situ data, climate services, weather forecast and crop models. Geospatial products and maps are combined in the AfriCultuReS Platform (https://africultures-platform.eu/en/) for enriched decision making and risk assessment. Attention was given to the dissemination and exploitation of climate data over Africa, on this regard the project developed the AfriCultuReS Climate Portal (https://africultures-climate.eu/) for users specializing on climate science. The Platform provides, multi-scale geospatial information and analytic tools that enrich and improves decision making at different levels, from the policy maker down to the smallholder farmer scale. AfriCultuReS integrates Earth Observation (EO) data, in situ information, crop models, weather forecasts, seasonal climate predictions, long term climate projections and socio-economic and agronomic parameters that support science-backed decision making at different scales, from policy makers at continental or national level down to farm level.

The long-term goal of this project was to make African agriculture and food systems more resilient while fostering the uptake of EO and geospatial and climate science by users. To address added value directly, AfriCultuReS followed a co-design approach for the definition of services and use cases creating ownership and genuine interest among users about a solution that addresses real life challenges. At the end AfriCultuReS aims at bringing solutions to the market to ensure its sustainability, in this regard teaming up with potential clients was key. If solutions are created not only for, but also with clients, market readiness can be achieved quicker and more easily.

AfriCultuReS vision is to be a Food Security Digital Innovation Hub for Africa. AfriCultuReS is envisioned as a one stop shop that gives access to a variety of data, information and services that showcase the application of geospatial technology for the improvement of food security.
Demonstration use cases were co-designed, tested and validated with the participation of the final users from the African countries participating in the project. The following national cases were deployed in the AfriCultuReS Platform.

- Tunisia - Irrigation Support to decrease of the dependency to climate variations and to promote the rational use of water for irrigation and agricultural production
- Niger - Regional Pastoral Information Service to provide information to producers in the field for their decision-making to reduce agro-climatic risks
- Ghana –Early Warning System based on crop monitoring to benefit ministries and policy makers. The aim is then to establish a “GEOGLAM”-type of system at the national level
- South Africa - Allocation of drought relief funds to livestock farmers, providing essential information to support decision making in the allocation drought relief funds to affected farmers
- Mozambique - Crop monitoring and yield forecasting to cope with the lack, insufficiency or unreliable data on food crop production to allow decision and policy making
- Kenya - Crop and crop condition mapping for wheat, avocado and macadamia value chains that lack of reliable data
- Rwanda - Crop monitoring and yield forecasting to support the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) to mitigate risks and losses incurred by farmers due to natural disasters, pests and diseases

Products and services were validated according to a well-documented protocol in which procedures for were described, as well as the technical description of the steps to be followed to compare the space-based information with independent data/methods. The validation process demonstrated the accuracy and reliability of products and services

Capacity development was a key component of the work program. Capacity was created among users throughout practical exercises and face to face (when anti-covid-19 measures allowed) and remote meetings and workshops. 4 rounds of workshops were held in the participant countries. The 1st round served also to the co-design of services and initial approach to the definition of use cases, that were fully defined in the 2nd round. In the last tow iterations feedback on the use cases was brought while setting the environment for future development and collaboration

Analysis of the African market for EO in the field of agricultural production and development of a business plan provided a solid ground for the future development and commercialization of the AfriCultuReS services, by describing the value creation and service delivery processes.
AfriCultuReS is a customer driven solution that improve agricultural policy and food production, based on a set of services and products that are combined to serve specific purposes. The services rely on the users’ exploitation of information products that alone, or in combination with other information products, satisfy their requirements. AfriCultuReS facilitates the access to a wide range of products in a harmonized manner and facilitates their exploitation throughout a single access point.

The approach followed for the implementation of the AfriCultuReS Platform and the integration of services eases scaling to different geographic regions and/or to address value chains not yet served.
From the financial dimension AfriCultuReS helps targeting the right investments at the right time, allow the reduction of operating expenditure in food production and costs for assessment and monitoring while improving the use of productive inputs and resources. At the same time the digitalization of food production data brings efficiency gains.

AfriCultuReS helps the reduction of productive risks thanks to its early forecasting services and enablement environment for risks assessment. From the environmental dimension AfriCultuReS provides the means for mitigation the impact of agricultural production to the environment and depletion of natural resources. AfriCultuReS is a pan-African platform thus offers the opportunity to make comparisons across countries and to derive inspiration from initiatives elsewhere in Africa. the long term long term vision of AfrCultuReS is to be a Digital Innovation Hub for Food Security in Africa.
AfriCultuReS Logo landscape - high resolution
AfriCultuReS Logo square - high resolution