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A Recent History of Agricultural Production in “The Rest of the World"

Status of Sub-National Ag Stat

Sub-national agricultural statistics for countries that are not major grain exporters have always been difficult to find. And although ag statistics may be produced every year in almost every country, finding them afterwards is often an adventure.

NASA Harvest is assisting FEWS NET, in a project led by Dr. Gary Eilerts, to gather in one place a unique archive of publicly-available sub-national agricultural statistics, especially for ~110 countries outside of North America and Europe (see map below), for the satellite age (1980-present). FEWS NET uses this base of information in its early warning, food security and resilience analyses. The potential use of these data could be much broader, in climate-change, food price and global trade analyses, yield gap studies, vulnerable-country profiles, etc.

To enhance their use, the Harvest activity is also supporting the creation of specialized tools for them:

  • Boundary intelligence: flowcharts identifying the timing of, and evolution in, the shapes of sub-national ag statistic reporting units, since 1980;
  • Crop intelligence: for all crops reported grown, local, common English, and scientific names are given, and coded using an adapted Commodity Product Code (CPC, version 2.1);
  • Breadcrumbs back to the future: internet URLs for all country ag stat data sources have been retained for future updates;
  • Source docs and more: Original (1,700 digital copies) source documents (annual harvestreports etc.) are being collected and up-loaded along with the data. Sub-national crop calendars are often included in these documents.

Sub-national Agricultural Aquisition Status

Status of Sub-National Ag Stat database:  Approximately 4 million data points (area, yield, production for 1 crop, 1 place, 1 season) have been collected from public sources to-date, for ~125 countries. 75+ countries have been cleaned and uploaded to the FEWS NET Data Warehouse (FDW). Others are in-process. More data may be available from the original sources (see graphic).  “Sparse” datasets are those which cover short periods or are incomplete in some other important manner.  “Secondary priority” ag statistic datasets have been collected but will not be processed and uploaded until all other datasets have been completed and uploaded.   

Example of Kazakhstan ag stat boundary changes, 1979-present
Fig 1: Example of Kazakhstan ag stat boundary changes, 1979-present

Flow charts (see Fig 1) reflecting the evolution of ag statistic reporting units are complete for 50+ non-European/North American countries.  Annual Shapefile “sets” which reflect these evolving boundaries in a specific country are currently only prepared for FEWS NET-covered countries.

A database of 48,000+ local/common/scientific crop names is currently available. Country-specific crop names can be a source of confusion and misattribution - for example, “Achicoria”, a major “industrial” crop in Chile, is called by a name that most Spanish-speaking countries use for “endibia” or endive (Cichorium endivia L.).  The “achicoria” crop name in most other countries refers to “chicory” (Cichorium intybus). Issues like this make this database a critical tool for cross-country comparisons. 

Relation of these data with the FEWS NET Data Warehouse:  The FDW contains food security-oriented datasets and other resources used by FEWS NET analysts to monitor, early warn, and assess food security conditions. The data domains currently present in the FDW include:  food prices, nutrition surveys, demographic data, spatial boundaries, national and regional trade patterns, a time-series of quarterly/trimestral classifications of food security status and the numbers of people affected, annual humanitarian response quantities, and agricultural outcomes. 

Access to FDW data:  Due to resource constraints and a variety of ownership restrictions, access to FEWS NET Data Warehouse data series and other associated products is currently only open, upon registration and approval, to users with specific USAID-approved humanitarian or developmental purposes.  This may include Harvest members working on closely-related topics (climate change, market and trade analyses, water availability, vulnerability and resilience products).  Broader open public access to FEWS NET Data Warehouse data is an eventual goal of USAID.

News Date
Jul 23, 2019