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NASA Harvest’s COVID-19 Food Supply Chain Project Receives Rapid Response and Novel Research in Earth Science Grant

COVID19 proposal acceptance

In response to NASA’s call for unique research that advances Earth remote sensing usage as a result of urgent and unpredictable environmental circumstances, NASA Harvest partners led by Mike Humber [Data and Harvest Portal Lead] received funding for their research on Agricultural Supply Chains and Food Security in the COVID-19 World: an Interdisciplinary Research Initiative. This project recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on a major disconnect between remotely-sensed crop production prospects and food supply chain disruptions which are linked to global food availability. Thus, the need for reliable, widely-available, real-time data on agricultural supply chains is vital for decision-makers who require accurate information when implementing related policies. 


This novel research initiative takes an interdisciplinary approach in order to connect the dots between available crop data and supply chain disruption by using satellite data estimates of worldwide agricultural yields to assess food supply flows around the globe, including regions that are particularly vulnerable to experiencing food insecurity. In partnership with multiple NASA Harvest consortium members such as the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the GEOGLAM Crop Monitors, and backed by the use of open source COVID-19 datasets (ie. John’s Hopkins University COVID-19 data), the team of experts plan to enact a Geographic Information System to assess supply chain disruptions supported by Earth observation and aggregated satellite data. This tool will function as a monitoring system to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on food availability as the virus continues to spread around the world and into developing countries. With the ultimate goal of providing an easy-to-navigate resource for making informed policy interventions and reducing disruptions to the global food market system, the resulting tool will incorporate transparent, openly available, and near-real-time data. 


With these goals in mind, the main components of the collaborative project include:

  1. Development of a geospatial platform for analyzing diverse supply chain information from crop production indicators to grain availability
  2. Assessment and compilation of relevant food supply data sets including price indicators, trade, shipping, logistics, policies, stocks, utilization, production, crop calendars, crop specific maps, etc.
  3. Satellite-based monitoring of major agricultural production areas for export countries
  4. Satellite-based monitoring of domestic production of import-dependent countries with an emphasis on countries at risk of food insecurity.
  5. US domestic monitoring of emergence, crop progress, condition, acreage and production as well as a detailed assessment of crop utilization and trade
  6. Analysis and modeling of potential economic and food availability impact
  7. Communication and outreach of the results, working with AMIS and its Steering Committee member organizations, including the International Grain Council, the World Trade Organization, OECD, IFPRI, FAO, and the World Food Program (WFP).  

Visit the NASA JPL website to view the official announcement and to learn more about how Earth observation data is being used to monitor COVID-19 impacts and inform policy decisions.

News Date
Jul 28, 2020
Mary Mitkish, Mike Humber