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Satellite Crop Monitoring System in Pakistan

Pakistan is a country of diverse agro-climatic regions. The climate is  predominantly arid to semi arid. The mighty Indus and its tributaries have  facilitated the establishment of a network of dams, barrages and a profuse delivery system of water supplies. Pakistan’s agriculture is predominantly converged in the Indus basin.

In 2005 erstwhile Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MINFA) opted to  invest in advanced technologies for  gathering spatial information on  agriculture/ crops sector. For this purpose, MINFA invited SUPARCO,  the National Space Agency of  Pakistan, to develop crop area  algorithms and crop yield models,  based on the application of satellite remote sensing, GIS technology, crop  agronomy and agro-meteorology.

Worldwide Satellite based crop Monitoring Systems A number of countries and organizations, worldwide are currently involved in  monitoring crops, using satellite technology and allied systems. The most  important of these include Food and Agriculture organization of the United  Nations, European Union, USA, China, and a number of others. Description of  these programs is as follows.

FAO: Global Information and Early warning System (GIEWS), GIEWS provides up to dated information on the food security situation of  developing countries. It furnishes country specific information on current

agricultural season and the harvest prospects for main staple food crops and  livestock situation. In addition, the system provides estimates and forecasts of cereal production and imports together with food price and policy  developments. The briefs are updated no less than four times per year.

MARS, European Union (EU) The EU is running a program titled Monitoring Agriculture Resource System

(MARS) at Joint Research Center (JRC), Milan Italy. The basic purpose of this  program is to provide timely information pertaining to crop yield forecasting  system  USA: Crop Explorer; Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), USDA The Crop Explorer web portal features near-real-time global crop condition  information based on satellite imagery and weather data. Thematic maps of  major crop growing regions are updated every 10 days to depict the latest  statistics pertaining to vegetative vigor, precipitation and temperature, and  soil moisture. Time-series charts depict current and historical growing season

data for specific agro-meteorological zones.

China Crop Watch System (CCWS) The China Crop Watch System (CCWS) was developed by the Institute of  Remote Sensing Application (IRSA) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)  in 1998. CCWS covers entire China and 46 major grain-growing countries of  the world. The System monitors the condition of the growing crop, crop  production, drought, crop plantation structure and cropping index.

Pakistan: Satellite based Crop Monitoring System (Pak-SCMS) SUPARCO in collaboration with erstwhile MINFA, started developing a  satellite based crop Monitoring system during 2005 to provide fast track and  accurate information on crops and also cover any catastrophic situations.

Agricultural mask of Pakistan was developed based on high resolution data  acquired during peak growth seasons of February for Rabi crops and  September for Kharif crops. SUPARCO carries out wall to wall coverage of the  agriculture area of the country using remote sensing data. This data is utilized to monitor various crops across the seasons. SUPARCO also has developed a  regional crop calendars for sowing and harvesting of crops to be used for  acquisition of satellite data during Rabi and Kharif seasons. Field surveys are also organized to collect spectral signatures of crops and land surface


In addition to satellite imaging program, SUPARCO has developed an area  frame system for Pakistan, based on satellite image acquisition. This was done through Stratification of land-cover area. The decadal NDVI (Normalized  Difference Vegetation Index) was used to stratify the land-cover features at

maximum peak vegetation stages in the last decade of February for Rabi crops  and second decade of September for kharif crops.

The crop yield models are based on the concept of harmonization and integration of historical data of crops, weather systems, fertilizers and  satellite vegetation information, with corresponding data of these variables  during the year under study.

Now that MINFA has been devolved and the subject is being handled by the  provincial Governments, SUPARCO continuous to interact with all the  concerned departments in the provinces ensuring extending remote sensing & GIS tools for better agriculture planning & monitoring in Pakistan.


The satellite remote sensing and GIS technology has helped to overcome the  limitations of manual system. This technique has been useful to supply temporal and synoptic data of high quality in advance of crop harvests. This  has also helped to monitor natural calamities as floods and drought. A  monthly web based crop forecasting service(http://www.suparco.gov.pk/pages/pak.scms.asp) has been started to  provide country wide authenticated and scientific information on crops. The  planners, policy makers, public, private sector and other end users have greatly benefitted from this service).

(Source – http://www.suparco.gov.pk/downloadables/12-Satellite-based-Montoring-of-Agriculture.pdf)

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