Nieuwsbericht 13 September 2022

ESA GDA project on Agriculture kicked off

EO data to monitor agricultural growth and support mitigation actions

Over the last decade, the European Space Agency (ESA) has been working with multiple international organizations in the development sector, i.e. the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) to deliver improvements in efficiencies and impact to their operations. As such ESA’s Global Development Assistance (GDA) Programme is designed to respond directly to the operational requirements of the WB and the ADB and the needs of stakeholders in developing countries.

Agriculture is one of the themes that is part of this larger programme, since agricultural development is a conditio sine qua non, to end extreme poverty. Growth in the agriculture sector is very effective to raise incomes among the poorest. However, due to amongst other things climate change, agricultural growth is at risk. Monitoring this risk with the support of EO data, as well as supporting mitigation actions in the agricultural sector, are all parts of this exciting new ‘Agriculture’ project in the GDA programme.

The project is targeting eight use cases. Within VITO Remote Sensing we are leading the following three use cases.

  • Resilient and sustainable agricultural production
    To minimize the human impact on the Earth’s natural resources and avoid land use triggered conflicts, it is extremely important that we focus on increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner, from large scale agriculture to small-holders farming. Earth Observation is a powerful technique for continuously assessing the status of agricultural production on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. We will provide historical to current local to national data on cultivated areas (crop type, acreage, irrigation supply) and yield assessment.
  • Food Security financing
    Food security remains an urgent issue, and is even further enhanced through the COVID-19 pandemic constraints. The planning and prioritization of development cooperation investments often require geospatial information on agricultural, socio-economic as well as climate change aspects at national to global scale, which partly can be provided by satellite EO. Furthermore, the monitoring and evaluation of impact related to these investments are an essential part of Food Security programs. We will customize and integrate existing or new EO information layers for informing Food Security programs.
  • Locust monitoring
    The recent massive desert locust upsurge in Eastern Africa and Southwest Asia, caused by favourable climatic conditions, highlighted the need for constant monitoring of the locust situation, related environmental conditions, and to provide forecasts for managing prevention measures. Satellite capabilities can significantly improve the timeliness and accuracy of locust outbreak forecasting. Early warning means countries can act swiftly to control a potential outbreak and prevent massive food losses. Similar EO approaches could be considered for further pests (e.g. fall armyworm) affecting severely agricultural production.


ESA GDA agriculture has been officially kicked off on September 8, 2022 and will end in March 2024. The project is led by GMV (Spain) in cooperation with CGI Italia (Italy), UNIQUE (Germany) and VITO Remote Sensing (Belgium).