Geospatial and Space Agency to release preliminary crop yield estimates

22 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Geospatial and Space Agency to release preliminary crop yield estimates

The Sunday News

Judith Phiri, Business Reporter 

THE Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) has said they will provide some of the preliminary estimates of prepared land, cropped area, and where possible crop yield estimates for the 2022/23 summer cropping season at the end of the month. 

Using remote sensing and satellite imagery to carry out the summer cropping yield estimation before the end of this season is a way of providing timely information for the optimum management of growing crops. Launched in 2018, the ZINGSA has the mandate to enhance the country’s capability to harness space technologies.

It will also make it possible for the country to manage its natural resources and mitigate the effects of climate change. In an interview, ZINGSA chief operations officer (COO) Mr Painous Gweme said they were working with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to determine the summer cropping yield estimation.

“Working with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, ZINGSA is currently seized with image acquisition and processing to facilitate crop yield estimation for various crops such as maize and tobacco for the 2022/2023 summer cropping season. We will share the results as soon as we have done the estimations and have validated the results. As you are aware remote sensing products always need to be validated with data from the ground to ensure that correct estimates are derived. I am sure by end of this month we should be able to provide some preliminary estimates of prepared land, cropped area estimates for some crops, and where possible crop yield estimates.”

He said the beauty of remote sensing and associated satellite images was that they provide repetitive coverage of the same area enabling them to determine the progression of the season and thus facilitate early detection of any anomalies during the season. Mr Gweme said through processing satellite images they could determine crop conditions such as crop stress as a result of drought, nutrient deficiencies, monitoring of weeds, crop diseases, and even crop damage from floods or hailstorms. 

“It enables farmers to improve resource utilisation efficiency by determining how to appropriately vary inputs as per soil type, crop or prevailing conditions, among other things. Furthermore, satellite images can cover the whole country at one go thereby enabling us to see what is happening across the agricultural landscape at specific points in time.”

Mr Gweme said by classifying images using data collected from the ground they could estimate the area covered by each crop and derive estimates of expected yield well before harvesting. He said this was critical in ensuring food security as well as assisting in determining whether to import or export.

“The use of remote sensing is thus very beneficial as compared to the traditional methods which can be subjective, costly and time-consuming.”

In terms of monitoring irrigation nationwide, Mr Gweme said as ZINGSA within the framework of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), they were in the process of mapping all water bodies. He said these include dams, rivers and lakes among others which are within a specific catchment area as well as all irrigation schemes under Government, local authorities and private players using remote sensing and satellite imagery. 

“This exercise will also assist in determining the capacity utilisation of water bodies and their carrying capacity. So far, we have carried out basic mapping for all the dams in Zimbabwe. We are currently mapping all areas that may need irrigation in order to determine the requisite water resources for each specific scheme,” he added. 

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