Holland helps Africa and Near East with water solutions for crops

The Netherlands recently donated 7 million US dollars to water-scarce countries in Africa and Near East. The donation will be used to develop remote sensing technology to monitor and improve the use of water for crop production.

How does the technology work?

The Dutch-funded project uses satellite data to find land areas where water is not efficiently used for agricultural production. It will identify the source of the problem and advise different techniques for planting and irrigation. The data contains information about rainfall and crop transpiration, among other inputs.

The statistics are freely available to governments and farmers. Policymakers can use the tools to make policy decisions.

A data portal will also be part of the project. It will show information on 3 geographic levels: the whole of Africa and Near East, country and river basin level, and irrigation level.

Through the statistics, experts can determine where water and land productivity are low. Concluding that these areas use relatively high amounts of scarce natural resources, resulting in minimal yield.

‘We all know that water is becoming scarce while at the same time it is crucial to producing enough good food for a growing number of people. With this innovative remote sense approach to improving water productivity we give farmers a concrete tool to take decisions about the best use of water and what kind of crops to grow -- but also about the growing season so that they can target their investments,’ said Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO Gerda Verburg.

The project reflects the Netherlands’ interest in water issues in the agriculture sector. It is implemented by FAO in collaboration with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and other partners.

Sources: AllAfrica, FAO

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