Our aim is food security in Africa

AfriCultuReS is a European H2020 project



Alexandridis, T. et al. (2020). Designing AfriCultuReS services to support food security in Africa. Transactions in GIS.

This article explains the principles behind the AfriCultuReS project that aims at improving the food security situation in Africa by developing services that integrates Earth observation with other data sources.

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Example of crop condition maps computed for the Jendouba test area in Tunisia
Left: historical max of NDVI
Centre: Historical min of NDVI
Right: VCI computed for day 23 July 2019
Note: white area refers to cloudy pixels

Virtual conference

1st Virtual Practitioners Conference
on Desert Locust Management 2020 (August 10)

Locust outbreaks in 2019-20 in East Africa and West Asia have been the worst in decades. They have already wiped out massive amounts of crops, vast swathes of pasture. The sheer size of swarms and the sheer amount of food they devour within a matter of hours is triggering hunger crises—from Kenya and Ethiopia to Pakistan and India, and even Argentina most recently. In East Africa alone, 19 million are at risk of a much bigger crisis if the infestation continues unabated.
The 1st Virtual Practitioners Conference on Desert Locust Management 2020  (August 10), hosted by TheWaterChannel and supported by a number of partner organisations, will bring together professionals working at the frontline of the locust crisis across the world. They will present and discuss the nature of the problem as experienced at global and local levels, and the most promising solutions going forward.
To go to the recordings of the various sessions click on the picture below



Check out the latest AfriCultuReS publication

“Validation of sentinel-2 leaf area index (LAI) product derived from SNAP toolbox and its comparison with global LAI products in an African semi-arid agricultural landscape” by Mahlatse Kganyago, Paidamwoyo Mhangara,Thomas Alexandridis, Giovanni Laneve, Georgios Ovakoglou & Nosiseko Mashiyi.


Presentation Nosi Mashiyi

Click on the picture below for the link to Nosi Mashiyi’s presentation on the AfriCultuReS decision support system on Amazon web services, delivered at the GEO Virtual Symposium 2020.


Tele-training by OSS

OSS organised a “Tele-training on operational modelling of wheat growth and its yield estimate” within the framework of the AfriCultuReS and GMES-Africa projects in partnership with the CNCT (National Center for Mapping and Remote Sensing) - ONAGRI  (National Observatory of Agriculture) and INRGREF (National Institute for Research in Rural Engineering, Water and Forests), from 20 to 22 April 2020.

Marketing Toolkit new version

New version of AfriCultuReS marketing toolkit available! 

The AfriCultuReS marketing toolkit on Earth observation for agriculture and food security provides an overview of, and basic information on, Earth observation applications for agriculture and contextual information on agriculture and food security. The marketing toolkit consists of a presentation and a literature reference list.

click on the picture


Literature reference list click (new references in red)

Additional literature list click (new references in red)

Associated report click

Fourth project meeting

Fourth progress meeting

The fourth AfriCultuReS project meeting was held in Kigali, Rwanda on November 21 and 22, 2019, in conjunction with the AfricaGIS conference. Maize, wheat, potatoes and sorghum were selected as number one priority crops, while cassava, millet, rice and sugarcane where indicated as second priority crops. In addition to these crops, grasslands will be added for livestock and rangeland management.

Other topics for discussion were the AfriCultuReS methodology, the combination of satellite and in situ data, validation and calibration, data fusion and services federation, the AfriCultuReS IT platform, the business model and capacity development.

Third project meeting

Third project meeting


The project partners met in Thessaloniki, Greece, on May 20 and 21 to discuss future plans. Seven main service categories were identified:

  • On climate: to improve climate predictions, seasonal climate early warning and climate adaptation advice.
  • On crops: to improve crop condition monitoring and yield forecasts.
  • On droughts: to improve drought early warning and forecasts.
  • On land: to provide advice on avoiding land degradation and to improve soil condition assessment.
  • On livestock: to improve grazing and rangeland monitoring, browsing capacity assessment and identification of available water sources for livestock.
  • On water: to improve monitoring of water availability and productivity, crop water requirements assessment and soil moisture monitoring.
  • On weather: to improve (local) weather forecasts and extreme weather early warning.

Although it is already complicated to develop these services technically, bringing solutions to the market takes even more time: needing a period of ten years to do this is not uncommon. That’s why the AfriCultuReS partners started the discussion of teaming up with potential clients right away. If solutions are created not only for, but also with clients, market readiness can be achieved quicker and more easily.

Developing services for and with regional governments, such as county, provincial or district governments is an interesting option. Fulfilling the agricultural potential is a priority for local government and by improving the analysis and prediction of potential yields and monitoring of actual yields, useful intelligence for improving agricultural policy can be delivered.

The private sector is another good partner. Working with input suppliers, buyers, sellers and the processing industry can lead to an interesting bundling of services that benefit farmers and that are economically feasible. With financial institutions products can be developed that reduce the risks of providing (micro-)credit, possibly coupled with the delivery of index insurance products that are based on satellite information.


What will happen next? First the technical solutions will have to be worked out more in detail and tailored to the needs of each local context. To do that pilots will be carried out in Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, Niger, Tunisia and Ethiopia. Although a lot of information can be derived from satellites, gathering information on the ground for validation and calibration is indispensable.

In parallel a chain of workshops will be organised in these countries to engage with partners and to finetune the users’ needs assessment.

Second project meeting

Second project meeting

The AfriCultuReS project held its second progress meeting in November 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa, organised by SANSA. The meeting focused on the analysis of user needs that were identified in the regional stakeholder requirement workshops and how to match these with technical solutions based on satellite information to achieve maximum impact for food security.



First project meeting

First project meeting

The AfriCultuReS project held its first project meeting at the premises of the coordinator, GMV, near Madrid, Spain, on April 19 and 20. Apart from progress during the first six months of the project and technical aspects, the discussions focussed on cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, user needs and gender. Now it is time to start the development of solutions that contribute to food security for the eight project regions in Africa, which will be tested first in the form of pilot projects. We will keep you posted on developments!




AfriCultuReS has started!

The kick-off meeting was held in Addis Ababa on November 23 and 24, 2017, organized jointly by GMV, the project coordinator, and GeoSAS, the host.

There were opening speeches of His Excellency Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia, Dr. Franz Immler, Head of the sector Climate Action of the Executive Agency for SMEs of the European Commission, and Dr. Tidiane Outtara, Head of the GMES & Africa Support Programme Unit of the African Union.

See also:
Supporting farmers in Africa with European Earth Observation technology
GMES and AFRICA participates in AfriCultuReS H2020 kick-off meeting


Dr. Seleshi Bekele

His Excellency
Dr. Seleshi Bekele

The Honourable Minister indicated that food security and agriculture are among the most pressing priorities for Africa. Many Ethiopians depend on agriculture and it is the most important economic activity. Agriculture, however, faces a number of challenges: developmental, environmental and disasters, such as drought and erratic rainfall. A concerted effort of all stakeholders is needed to successfully achieve sustainable agricultural development.


Dr. Franz Immler

Opening by Dr. Franz Immler

Dr. Franz Immler opened the AfriCultuReS project on behalf of EASME and DG RTD Earth observation section
(Directorate-General for Research and Innovation).
He highlighted the main elements of the H2020 programme (the Research and Innovation programme of the European Union that runs from 2014 to 2020), with its three pillars of excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges, and the division of responsibilities with respect to supervision and support of implementation.


Dr. Tidiane Ouattara

The importance of food security

Dr. Ouattara outlined the importance of food security for Africa. The AfriCultuReS project is therefore very relevant.
The approach of AfriCultuReS is innovative, by involving the end-users and stakeholders. In the past 20 years the Earth observation community has worked too much in isolation.


Zero hunger

AfriCultuReS contributes to SDG 2 Zero Hunger


Horizon 2020

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 774652


Paving the way

HorizonEurope: Paving the way

Representatives from Draxis and HCP attended the workshop: “Paving the way for HorizonEurope in the EO downstream sector: Fostering a competitive and sustainable European EO downstream”, held in Brussels on October 8, 2019. Machi Simeonidou from Draxis presented the projects APOLLO, BEACON and DIANA that can be considered as European counterpart projects of AfriCultuReS.



15 - 19/06

GEO Virtual Symposium
more information..




EuroGEO virtual workshop



20 - 22/04

Tele-training on operational modelling
of wheat growth and its yield estimate




Environmental accounting, on the dashboard or in the trunk?

Fortunately, the attention for environmental accounting and ecosystem accounting is growing. We need more systems for inclusive measurement, monitoring and evaluation.

There are many initiatives:


  • On footprint calculations, such as on water




Co-design in times of Corona

One of the few positive points of the Corona-crisis is that it provides an opportunity for reflection. For me this included looking at the design considerations I applied ages ago and the ones we use now. What are the differences and what is still valid?

A lesson from the Corona-outbreak is not to take anything for granted. In developed countries the emphasis is very much on achieving maximum efficiency and effectiveness, in developing countries my design criteria focussed on maximum resilience. That means shifting from looking at “what can go right” to “what can go wrong”.

Nowadays we love to go for the new technical stuff, with buzzwords like big data, disruptive technology, machine learning, etc. In the process, we tend to forget the “what can go wrong”-side of things. Of course we talk of co-design, but in practice this is dealt with as a step in the process and then we go on with the technical things that make us so happy.

The danger is that this creates a mismatch between the “technical solution” and its successful long-term application. Not that there is anything wrong with technology, but things should be kept in perspective.

Home and office of the engineer




AfriCultuReS as GEO community activity

AfriCultuReS is accepted as a community activity in the 2020 – 2022 Work Programme of the Group on Earth Observations.

This provides a very good opportunity to stimulate the development of concrete Earth observation-based solutions for food security in Africa through international cooperation.

Ground Truth

Ground Truth week 2019

Mark Noort (HCP) participated in the closing panel of the Ground Truth 2.0 week in Delft, the Netherlands on October 4, 2019, and stressed the importance of making use of citizens’ observatories and the methodology developed and lessons learned of Ground Truth 2.0 in the AfriCultuReS project.



User workshop 3rd October


The fourth AfriCultuReS User Workshop of 2019 was organised by LocateIT and held in Nairobi on 3rd October. This workshop brought together representatives from government departments, research institutions and universities, farmers’ organisations, private enterprise and intergovernmental organisations to explore how AfriCultuReS can best meet user needs and build user capacity in Kenya.

Speaking during the opening address, Prof. Hamadi Boga, The State Department for Crop Development and Agriculture Research Principal Secretary, said that the ministry is developing a centralised, digitised information and knowledge portal where agricultural stakeholders can have access to production information on food and nutrition security. He expressed high hopes that AfriCultuReS will be high-quality research that will create data for Kenya.

Participants in the workshop in Kenya once again highlighted the importance of collaboration and integration, particularly given the number of Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiatives currently operational in the country. They suggested a need for agility to cope with a rapidly changing context, as the priority problems of today may not be those of tomorrow and lack of flexibility may result in the creation of products which quite quickly become obsolete.

Understanding this evolving context means continually engaging with the diversity of agricultural stakeholders in Kenya and particularly with the diversity of farmers. Users reiterated the need to demystify solutions by simplifying them for the different levels of target users. For instance, disseminating information to pastoralists in Northern Kenya, would require the development of an entirely different communication strategy, potentially one based on existing social and business networks such as those centred around water point managers, elder associations or agrodealerships. Encouraging uptake of EO4SD applications will also involve creating simplified products which elegantly meet the core needs of end-users, and demystifying these products so that end-users fully understand the contributions earth observation-based applications can make to farming livelihoods.

Capacity development needs identified in Kenya included providing training on the use of EO-based applications to a diversity of stakeholders, through user workshops but also by making sure that products are accompanied by detailed supporting documentation. Participants also highlighted the challenges of integrating data from different sources, particularly when data owners may be unwilling to share because they fear losing a commercial advantage. Attendees additionally highlighted the need to engage with rural realities to ensure that the products created are genuinely relevant to the livelihoods of rural people, and to complement satellite earth observation data with the indigenous knowledge held in rural communities.

Our thanks to Vivianne Meta, Vance Udoto, Evelyn Nanjala, Elvis Khamala, Steve Omondi and all colleagues at LocateIT for organising the workshop, and to the workshop participants for generously sharing their expertise and experiences.

A full report on AfriCultuReS 2019 User Workshop outcomes will be shared on the website in early 2020. Further information is also available in the coverage of the workshop by the Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation




User workshop 27th September

The third AfriCultuReS User Workshop of 2019 was hosted by the Centre for GIS and Remote Sensing of the University of Rwanda on 27th September 2019. This workshop included representatives from local and national government departments, research/academia, and farmers’ organisations.

The workshop showed the importance of integrating AfriCultuReS products and services into the rapidly evolving Rwandan geospatial sector. There are an increasing number of earth observation based products available in Rwanda and an increasing number of locally-produced high-resolution ground datasets. This offers exciting potential for collaboration, but brings with it an accompanying risk of duplication and redundancy. Meaningful partnerships with Rwandan institutions will therefore be essential to the success of any new project.

Discussion of capacity development priorities highlighted the limited technological infrastructure in Rwanda available to support new applications, and the funding constraints which make it difficult to address these infrastructure gaps. The preference of stakeholders would of course be to invest in improved infrastructure; but given that this is unlikely to be achieved in the near-term, emphasis was placed on the importance of offline functionality. Participants also highlighted the need for training adapted to the requirements of different stakeholder groups, for example through technical sessions, workshops, classroom training, or via media such as radio which are in Kinyarwanda and which have broad reach in the country.

Our thanks to CGIS and particularly to Clarisse Kagoyire, Maurice Mugabowindekwe and Joseph Tuyishimire for organising the workshop, and to all the attendees for taking the time to participate and share their perspectives.

A full report on the outcomes of the 2019 AfriCultuReS User Workshops will be available on the website in early 2020.

South Africa

User workshop 17th September 2019


The first of the AfriCultuReS 2019 User Workshops was held at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria on 17th September. Organised by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), this workshop brought together representatives from government departments, research institutions, agribusiness and private enterprise to discuss the progress of the AfriCultuReS project and the priority capacity development needs in South Africa.

Workshop discussions illuminated the vibrant Earth Observation for Sustainable Development scene existing in South Africa, and how important it is for new projects to understand this scene in order to avoid replicating existing products. Workshop participants stressed the importance of engaging with stakeholders at all stages of the value chain associated with a new agricultural application based on satellite earth observation, from product developers to the farmers themselves. Participants also discussed potential business models for new applications based on satellite earth observation in South Africa – all participants had witnessed projects which collapsed after initial funding had run out, and so financial sustainability was a key concern.

Capacity development priorities identified for South Africa included raising of awareness about the value of satellite earth observation among all stakeholders, for example through training-of-trainers workshops and dissemination of success stories. Participants also highlighted the challenges of disseminating information in rural South African contexts, particularly to poorer and otherwise marginalised farmers, and suggested a need to use communication strategies such as radio and SMS in local languages for information sharing.

Our thanks to SANSA and particularly to Nosiseko Mashiyi and Mahlatse Kganyago for leading the organisation of the workshop, and to all the workshop participants for sharing their time and experience.

A full report on AfriCultuReS 2019 workshop outcomes will be available on the website in early 2020.

Poster GEO week

Services in development (poster GEO week Canberra, Australia)




Brochures of services and marketing toolkit


Climate brochure Crop brochure Drought brochure Land brochure Voorkant livestock Water brochure Weather brochure Marketing toolkit brochure

Weather forecasting

Weather forecasting for agriculture in Africa,
the business case?


TWIGA team visiting a TAHMO weather station in Ghana
(courtesy: TAHMO & TWIGA project

Weather information is a priority for farmers, whether they use irrigation or not. It should be localised, timely and accurate enough, to make the information relevant at field level. In Africa, this is often not the case, although there are information providers, such as aWhere and Weather Impact, that are active on the continent.

There is a clear need for local meteo stations, not only for increasing the density of the meteorological observation network, but also for other parameters. To give an example: humidity is very important for to assess the conditions in which late blight disease in potatoes can occur (information derived from satellites only is not accurate enough).

An organisation that aims at filling this gap is TAHMO. TAHMO has now 400 stations and plans to go to 20,000 meteo stations quickly.

But who pays for all this? Cooperation with national meteo agencies is a must, but the budget available is limited. Advertising, as with weather forecasting in developed countries (e.g. buienradar (shower radar) in the Netherlands) is not an option in Africa. In addition, these applications provide their information on the web, while in Africa transmission through SMS and IVR would be more appropriate and needs to be done in the local language(s).



AGRHYMET bulletins

AfriCultuReS supports AGRHYMET monthly bulletins

AGRHYMET produces each month a newsletter called AGRHYMET monthly bulletin, this bulletin is distributed through a mailing list of 4000 contacts. The bulletin is also distributed on CRA, CILSS and INSAH websites, and distributed to participants during the workshops.

During the rainy season, CRA organizes every 10 days a follow-up meeting of the agro-pastoral campaign, this meeting called a ten-day briefing is always sanctioned by a summary which is distributed internally and to certain partners, to allow these users to follow regularly the situation of the agro-pastoral campaign.

To ensure the visibility of donors, projects and technical partners who have contributed to the production of information, the logo of each one is added on the last page of the bulletin, as is the case with the AfriCultuReS project logo.

The bulletins are directed at technicians from the ministries of CILSS and ECOWAS member countries, NGO technicians and producer organizations, students and researchers.


Access the bulletins

in English

in French

Grant for Cloud Credits

Grant for AfriCultuReS 

The H2020 AfriCultuReS project has been awarded by GEO (Group on Earth Observations) and AWS (Amazon Web Services) under the Amazon Sustainability Date Initiative with cloud services to provide Earth observation services in support of food security in Africa. The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) will coordinate the initiative titled “AfriCultuReS Decision Support System (ADSS) Community Version”.


More info on this initiative

Horizon Magazine

Europe’s eyes in the sky

“Europe’s eyes in the sky are helping to solve energy, land-use problems in Africa”
is the title of an article (by Aisling Irwin) in Horizon magazine, in which AfriCultuReS participants Juan Suárez, Issa Garba and Mark Noort give their views on achieving food security in Africa with the help of satellite data.


AfriCultuReS user requirements stakeholder workshops

Workshops were held in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique and South Africa to assess user needs related to Earth observation for food security. The photos below give an impression of the workshops. Additional workshops are scheduled for Tunisia and Niger.

The Business Daily wrote an article on the stakeholder workshop held in Kenya:
“Timely data will unlock farming potential, tech experts advise”.

Workshop participants Kenya                                          Workshop participants Ghana

Workshop participants South Africa                              Workshop participants Rwanda

Workshop participants working in groups,

Spatial detail

Comparison of the spatial detail between a MODIS LAI image (a) and a downscaled LAI image (b) for the Umbeluzi study area (Mozambique)



Downscaling of MODIS LAI data
Presentation in IGARSS 2018

The International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium is a premier event in remote sensing and provides an ideal forum for obtaining up-to-date information about the latest developments, exchanging ideas, identifying future trends and networking with the international geoscience and remote sensing community. This year it is taking place in Valencia, Spain, with the theme "Understanding and Forecasting the Dynamics of our Planet" (https://igarss2018.org/).

Partner AUTH is presenting "Spatial enhancement of MODIS Leaf Area Index (LAI) using regression analysis with Landsat Vegetation Index". The aim of this study was to enhance the spatial resolution of the MODIS LAI product using a downscaling model that combines Enhanced Vegetation Index and LAI images from the two satellites. The results show that it is possible to use this methodology to reliably estimate LAI at a 30m spatial resolution across various climates and ecosystems, thus supporting a food security early warning system.

The presentation is on Friday 27 July 2018, 9:30am.


From large to small or from small to large?

Lessons from the use of mobile apps and geodata apps for smallholder farmers


Satellite and geodata applications for smallholder agriculture are quite new, more general apps for smallholders that make use of mobile technology are around a bit longer. A number of these mobile initiatives have been evaluated (have a look at www.gsma.com) and it is interesting to look at the finding to see where geodata and mobile apps could complement each other, also with an eye on new application fields, such as (inclusive) finance.


2nd FS-TEP Workshop

Food Security Thematic Exploitation Platform

Juan Suárez presented the AfriCultuReS project during the 2nd workshop of the Food Security Thematic Exploitation Platform, FS-TEP, an initiative supported by ESA (held in Frascati, Italy, from March 5 -7).

Juan stressed the importance of involving all stakeholders: with its strong presence in Africa and participation of African partners, AfriCultuReS can cooperate with the FS-TEP partners in pilot cases and applications.



Juan Suarez, Business Development Manager at GMV, Spain
“Excited to coordinate such an exceptional group of people working together to meet the challenge of improving food security in Africa.”

Mark Noort, Director at HCP international, the Netherlands
"The SBAM (Satellite Based Agricultural Monitoring) project, funded by Italian Space agency and covering Kenya, is very much in line with the objectives of AfriCultuReS!" (http://sbam.psm.uniroma1.it/)

EuroGEOSS launch

AfriCultuReS in the EuroGEOSS launch

The AfriCultuReS project was presented as one of the example projects in the EuroGEOSS launch event that was organized in the week of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), held in Washington DC from October 23 – 26, 2017.
Professor Pierre Defourny of the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium highlighted AfriCultuReS in his presentation on the EuroGEOSS agricultural pilot.

More information on EuroGEOSS

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 774652