The Expanding Role of Remote Sensing Technology in Agricultural Production and Trade Decisions
December 8th-10th: Time TBD
In recent years, with the spread of new satellites and sensors, open access to various satellite imagery and products, and advanced computational capabilities, remote sensing technology (RST) is taking a bigger role helping to improve crop production estimations. Satellite-derived variables such as evaporative stress index, soil moisture, temperature, precipitation, and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), among others, provide insight into crop conditions from farm to global scales and in turn help producers, input suppliers, policy makers, and different market agents make more efficient decisions from pre-sowing through harvest and marketing.
During the crop development stages, RST is able to provide different insights about crop conditions also at the farm-scale, contributing to on-farm decision making. Meanwhile, RST provides tools for better understanding the regional, national, and global crop output, helping to estimate earlier and with greater precision crop production at these scales. Having a better understanding of crop production at a national-level helps to better estimate national needs or surplus, and this is directly linked with trade. In 2011 the G20 created two initiatives, AMIS http://www.amis-outlook.org/ and GEOGLAM https://cropmonitor.org/. Both platforms work together to promote market transparency, through international price monitoring and global crop monitoring. Having a better understanding of the export capacities provide a decrease in market uncertainty, especially during tight stock-to-use ration seasons. Meanwhile, public access to this timely information provide analysts with insight into export surplus and import needs for different crops worldwide.
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has commissioned a multidisciplinary program led by the University of Maryland to enhance the use of satellite data in decision making related to food security and agriculture: NASA Harvest. Events such as food price spikes and food shortages related to severe weather underscore the risks associated with knowledge gaps around food production and supply. Decision makers gaining access to timely, objective, accurate, and actionable information can strengthen food security, market stability, trade and human livelihoods. This information has proven a valuable tool from on-farm to national to international decision making in food insecure areas and major production and export countries alike.
Identifying Areas to Apply Technology to Reduce Uncertainty and Improve Market Function for Both Governments and the Private Sector
December 8th - 10th: Time TBD
Global grains and oilseeds markets continuously adjust to the flow of information on country, regional and global supply and demand balances for key commodities such as corn, soybeans, rice and wheat. One of the key drivers in determining grain trade flows in a given year are price and weather-induced changes in crop areas and yields in major importing and exporting countries. These areas and yields are often not largely known until harvest is well underway within those countries. These uncertainties result in market inefficiency, raising stock levels and storage costs, inducing policy decisions and raising prices to consumers while lowering prices to producers. The value of market information was observed early on and by the 1980s the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) began a process of assessing global commodity markets, country by country on a monthly basis, through the monthly release of the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.
The WASDE report is closely watched by global agricultural markets who, as signaled by their actions in response to its release, view it as an unbiased benchmark of current market supply and demand conditions to which other estimates are measured against. The production of the WASDE report brings together numerous resources and several USDA agencies and is produced with a constant flow of data sources including survey-based analysis, foreign and domestic government reports, meteorological data, earth observation data and expert input. Many of these data are increasing in volume, precision and availability and falling in price. As such, identifying areas of uncertainty and the application of this information would improve market function.
While production in large exporting and importing countries are key to understanding the current market balance both in the US and abroad, the differences in the error bounds of crop estimates for individual countries, and when during the marketing year those errors are resolved, contributes to continued carryout stock and price uncertainty. Using historic WASDE estimates compiled under cooperation between the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) we examine how specific countries’ production uncertainty across corn, soybean, rice and wheat, contributes to uncertainty about US and global carryout stocks. We also evaluate the monthly changes in the contributions to uncertainty prior to, through and beyond the marketing year. We then use these results to determine what uncertainty may be a result of alternate growing seasons, including between the northern and southern hemispheres which may simply be inherent in the process, and identify areas were additional technology and resources may be applied by both governments and the private sector to reduce uncertainty and improve market function.