TOPICS

Crops, Climate and Environment, Land, Water

SOLUTION TYPE

Innovation (technical or institutional), Technology

REGION

Global or multi-regional initiative

"We use CropWatch mainly for crop production forecast. Our team has been applying the tool to generate monthly agriculture bulletin during the rain season, which informs policy making at national and provincial-level agriculture departments."

Mr. Hilten, Department of Crops and Early Warning, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mozambique

BACKGROUND

Most developing countries fail to build their own agricultural monitoring systems due to the costs of setting up and operating these systems, as well as the technical knowledge they require. And farmers and policy makers in developing countries are over-dependent on information provided by third parties, making decisions and taking risks based on potentially out-of-date or incomplete information. Rural smallholder farmers are usually those most heavily affected by reductions in agricultural production or abnormal food price fluctuations. 

WHAT’S INVOLVED

Satellite-based remote sensing indicators

Four major categories of 32 indicators are monitored– CropWatch agroclimatic indicators (CWAIs), arable land-use intensity indicators, agronomic indicators and crop-production indicators – on global, regional, national and sub-national levels, or any interest of areas.
 

Analysis and predictions

CropWatch provides analysis on global and regional agroclimatic assessments, country-level crop conditions, arable land use, crop acreage, yield predictions and prospects for the global food supply.
 

Cloud-based platform

As an Ali cloud-based platform, CropWatch enables interested stakeholders across the world to contribute, monitor and analyze data.
 

Training and localization

The World Bank and CropWatch team have  supported projects to launch and localize CropWatch in Mozambique and provide training to local staff. In December 2017, a customized CropWatch cloud platform was developed for Mozambique, and trainings were provided for experts from Mozambique.

EXPLORE THIS SOLUTION

The CropWatch system can offer:

  • A could-based crop-monitoring platform aiming to improve the availability, quality and transparency of food information.
  • An affordable and effective way for developing countries and stakeholders to conduct their own crop assessments.

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Countries involved

China, Mozambique

Project partners

Aerospace Information Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Agriculture and and Rural Development of Mozambique, World Bank

Project dates

1998 - Present

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Summary

CropWatch Cloud is an Ali cloud-based crop-monitoring platform that enables developing countries and stakeholders to conduct their own crop assessments. CropWatch provides information about agro-meteorological conditions, natural disasters, crop growth conditions, and projected productions, enabling early warnings about food security. Findings are published quarterly in the CropWatch bulletin for global assessment. As of May 2020, CropWatch covers 65 agroecosystems, six major global agricultural production areas and 43 countries.

 

Challenge/Problem

Developing countries face challenges achieving food security. According to UN estimates, 795 million people worldwide do not have enough food, and the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in developing countries. One major challenge to food security in developing countries is vulnerability to extreme weather shocks and fluctuations in international food prices. These can be mitigated by accessing to timely information about global food production.

Developing countries share a common need for agricultural monitoring systems, which could help estimate domestic and global agricultural production and provide early warnings about shortages or gluts. However, the costs of setting up and operating these systems, as well as the technical knowledge they require, constrain many developing countries’ abilities to maintain such crop-monitoring facilities. Only a few countries have successfully established independent crop-monitoring systems, and these systems are physically and technologically isolated. Therefore, farmers and policy makers in most developing countries are over-dependent on information provided by third parties, making decisions and taking risks based on potentially out-of-date or incomplete information. Rural smallholder farmers are usually those most heavily affected by reductions in agricultural production or abnormal food price fluctuations.

 

Solution

CropWatch is a crop-monitoring system that uses both satellite-based remote sensing to monitor four major categories of 32 indicators – CropWatch agroclimatic indicators (CWAIs), arable land-use intensity indicators, agronomic indicators and crop-production indicators – on global, regional, national and sub-national levels, or any interest of areas. Based on the monitored information, CropWatch provides analysis on global and regional agroclimatic assessments, country-level crop conditions, arable land use, crop acreage, yield predictions and prospects for the global food supply.

As a cloud-based platform, CropWatch allows interested stakeholders across the world to contribute, monitor and analyse data. CropWatch aims to improve the availability, quality and transparency of food information, particularly so that developing countries and stakeholders can access reliable information on food production. CropWatch provides open access to its data and has been downloaded in nearly 160 countries.

CropWatch is designed and operated by a team from the Aerospace Information Research Institute in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It uses market-oriented cloud services provided by Alibaba Cloud. CropWatch has long been an important information source in China, where the government uses it to inform decisions about disaster relief, the regulation of food markets and annual plans for importing and exporting food. CropWatch plays an especially important role in providing timely information about natural disasters and extreme weather events, such as the 1998 floods, droughts in 2001 and 2010 and the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank and CropWatch team have jointly supported projects to launch and localize CropWatch in Mozambique. In December 2017, a customized CropWatch cloud platform was developed for Mozambique, where food insecurity has been a serious issue. By using the CropWatch cloud platform, experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Mozambique are able to monitor agriculture  on the province and district levels. The monitoring results were officially incorporated into the Mozambique National Agro-Meteorological Bulletin in June 2018.

 

Results

As of May 2020, CropWatch has provided information services for users from nearly 160 countries, enhancing the transparency of global agricultural monitoring. It covers 65 agroecosystems, six major global agricultural production areas and 43 major food-producing countries. The service has published 111 bulletins in Chinese and English providing crop-growth reports and information on global, national and regional agroclimatic conditions.

CropWatch has also spread to other developing countries. In 2018, CropWatch launched in Mozambique in collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Mozambique has successfully published its own bulletin in Portuguese, and the monitoring results on provinces and districts were officially incorporated into the Mozambique National Agro-Meteorological Bulletin in June 2018. All indicators in CropWatch were customized, calibrated and made available from a district level (Figure 2). Cambodia and Viet Nam use CropWatch for their own regional and national crop assessments. CropWatch also automatically feeds information to Thailand Agri-MAP.

CropWatch is also helping governments mitigate the effects of natural disasters. During the flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in March 2019, CropWatch helped assess water levels and coordinate emergency response. To address droughts in Mongolia, the CropWatch team customized a ten-indicator DroughtWatch system in 2014. DroughtWatch has also been localized and used in Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

 

Lessons Learned/Potential for replication

The biggest challenge for localizing CropWatch in other countries is selecting the right partner agency. The success in Mozambique is partly due to a good local partner agency, the Department of Crops and Early Warning, National Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Crop monitoring is part of department’s business. In other cases, however, CropWatch has been slow to launch without a suitable local partner agency.  Experience shows that it can take a long time for partner countries to accept and take full advantage of CropWatch. Partner countries may need time to understand and see the value in the system. In order to replicate CropWatch in other African countries, it is important to link up with crop-monitoring and agrometeorological units. Launching CropWatch in other countries usually works better through multilateral cooperation than through bilateral mechanisms.

 

Next Steps

The CropWatch team plans to cooperate with more development partners to localize and customize CropWatch in other developing countries. The team will also release the API of the indicators in order to help developing countries and other stakeholders develop their own crop-monitoring facilities. In addition, the CropWatch team will develop new functions regarding pests and diseases, which will be useful to smallholder farmers.

Solution Image

Training local staff in Mozambique

Image Author:CropWatch Cloud

Field analysis in Mozambique

Image Author:CropWatch Cloud

The conceptual framework for working together with countries

Image Author:Bingfang Wu, 2019

A customized CropWatch cloud platform provides crop-condition monitoring on the district and regiona...

Image Author:CropWatch Cloud

Flooding estimates in Mozambique in early 2019

Image Author:CropWatch Cloud

DroughtWatch for Mongolia

Image Author:CropWatch Cloud

Solution Additional Resources

CropWatch Cloud CropWatch Cloud (en)

Last update: 16/10/2020