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Data: AU-EU sign deal to support African farmers and scientists

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Friday, 31 August 2018

Data: AU-EU sign deal to support African farmers and scientists

African scientists are about to get unprecedented access to enormous amounts of satellite data. This is thanks to a deal signed by the African Union with the European Commission’s Copernicus programme, which describes itself as the world’s third largest data provider. Data, and access to good reliable data, is becoming an increasingly important tool for science. It can help guide and support decisions in agriculture. These include the way food is produced, how it moves along the food chain, and the way it’s stored to avoid food wastage and losses. In North America, Australia and Europe, huge batches of data are being used to assess everything from the health of farmers’ soil to how shifting weather patterns might affect crops. The data generated by Copernicus’s satellites includes digital imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, sea and land surface temperature, and weather patterns. All of this information can help African countries tremendously. With the right data and careful analysis, the continent can address its declining soil health, as well as the threats of climate change and invasive insect pests such as the fall armyworm. But it’s not just scientists who stand to benefit from the AU’s deal with the European Commission. It will be important to use Copernicus’s copious data to properly advise smallholder farmers and to help guide pest monitoring efforts across the continent. Equipping farmers with knowledge There are about 500 million smallholder farmers across Africa who produce around 80% of the continent’s food. This group could benefit enormously from reliable data.

Source: reliefweb.int