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  • Crop alerts improve early warning for food security when disaster strikes
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Crop alerts improve early warning for food security when disaster strikes

Source(s):  Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

In response to a call from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), GEO’s Global Agricultural Monitoring initiative (GEOGLAM) has produced its first interim reports on agricultural production and food security in areas of emerging concern - starting with special alerts for the agricultural impacts of drought and Cyclone Idai in southern Africa.

Building on the success of the Crop Monitor for the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) which provides crop condition assessments for the main producer and exporter countries, GEOGLAM  also produces a crop monitor for countries at risk of food insecurity. This is done in partnership with many of the major global humanitarian organizations that have a focus on food security, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and GEOGLAM Asia Rice.

The Crop Monitor for Early Warning (CM4EW) focuses on a range of 8 crops across multiple growing seasons that have regional food security implications. The monthly reports represent a consensus of all contributing organizations. Over 35 monthly CM4EWs have been published since 2016.

While crop failure can have devastating impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and on food security, early warning gives governments and organizations time to mitigate loss and damage. CM4EW reports are used by several international organizations, including OCHA, USAID, WFP and FAO, to ensure adequate planning for and response to food security threats.

In 2018, OCHA referenced the CM4EW in a food security alert for southern Africa, and expressed a need for more frequent information in areas of emerging concern. GEOGLAM responded, and in March 2019 released its first special interim report in response to the current drought across southern Africa and the recent impact from Cyclone Idai.

These interim updates will be produced monthly and will serve as a continuation from regular CM4EW reporting over identified areas and regions of concern and where further monitoring is necessary to track crop development, disasters and food security. The next interim update on southern Africa will highlight the record drought and resultant crop failure in the main maize producing areas of southern Zambia, along with updates on Cyclone Idai.

In addition to southern Africa, the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor team has expanded interim reporting to cover the recent flooding in Iran and Iraq and its impacts on agricultural lands. Where there is an identified need, GEOGLAM partners will continue to track and update information with the aim of providing the most up-to-date and accurate information to its readers.



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  • Publication date 18 Apr 2019

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