By 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion and the demand for food is expected to increase by 70%. Arable land will only increase by 15%, water is not easily accessible and the climate is increasingly less predictable. Hence, a more effective and efficient food production is essential. This is why the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected Food Security as a policy priority. A key factor in enabling an increase and efficiency in food production is providing (smallholder) food producers (farmers, fishermen, livestock farmers) and other stakeholders in developing countries with relevant information.
Use of satellites enables monitoring of large areas in a timely, consistent, and objective manner. Recent pilot studies show that spatial (satellite) information can be used for user-tailored agricultural advices resulting in higher crop yields, more efficient use of inputs like water and fertilizers, early warnings for drought/flooding/diseases, and financial products (micro insurances). New satellite missions guarantee continued global coverage of large areas and timely provision of data free of charge.
The rapid adoption of mobile phones in developing countries has created new transmission mechanisms for reaching millions of food producers in remote areas with targeted agricultural information, besides already existing communication channels such as radio and television. In the past years new mobile phone based services providing up-to-date market prices were already successfully introduced in
The combination of new satellite services, improved mobile connectivity, and private investments offers the opportunity for scaling up innovations to large-scale implementation and operation. Ultimately, large-scale operational information chains can help food producers improve crop yields and make more efficient use of inputs for a more sustainable growth, thereby improving food security and food producers’ livelihoods.
In the framework of food security policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands has initiated a new programme: the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) Facility. The G4AW Facility aims to improve the agricultural sector and fishing industry output in 15 G4AW partner countries by providing food producers with relevant information, advices or (financial) products through operational information chains using satellite data.
The specific objectives of the G4AW Facility are to achieve a 10% more effective use of inputs for food production (water, seeds, fertiliser, pesticides, etc.) and to result in a minimum 10% increase in sustainable food production and/or an improved financial situation by providing at least three million food producers with relevant and timely information services.
The G4AW Facility will be executed by the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NSO is a Dutch governmental agency operating under the mandate of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).