Modern agricultural mapping technology is one of the
key elements in the implementation of efforts to reduce poverty and to monitor
agricultural activities in developing countries. Remote sensing technology in
the form of multi spectral satellite imagery, geographical positioning systems (GPS) and
digital aerial photography has improved dramatically in recent years and forms
the foundation of geographical information
GIS and remote sensing, in combination with
geographical positioning systems, are the instruments that are being used to
measure and audit agricultural activities. The importance of mapping
agricultural activities in developing countries is firstly to assist in
monitoring and calculating agricultural activities on an ongoing basis.
Secondly, land use and land management forms an integral part of agricultural
development but this process can only be successfully managed using GIS and
updated remote sensing technology.
If you cannot
measure it you cannot manage it…
Using GIS as part of the mapping process assists in
the creation of spatial models that indicate the most viable agricultural
activities in particular areas. This in turn enables authorities to improve
infrastructure around viable agricultural activities whereas GIS web map
capabilities can be used as a marketing tool to encourage investment and create
agricultural concession areas. Finally, GIS platforms to monitor agricultural
activities, land use and land management enable both governments and the donor
community to plan ahead in the fight against poverty.
Interestingly, in mid-2005 the Brazilian government
announced it would start combining information from satellite imagery with data
collected regularly from a large number of ground stations in an attempt to
reduce the margin of error in coffee crop estimates. Work on this project
started in 2003 - apart from coffee, satellite imagery will assist also in the
collection of information on soya, maize, rice, sugar cane, citrus, wheat and
cotton crops. Counting the national cattle herd is another option.