Satellites for food security

Increased crop yield and improved food security in developing countries. Sustainable use of resources such as water and fertilizer. Improved incomes for poorer farmers. These are all goals of the G4AM Facility, an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by the Netherlands Space Office between 2013 and 2020. G4AW (Geodata for Agriculture and Water) comprises fourteen projects in ten countries. Grants worth a total of forty million Euros have been awarded, whilst the organisations involved have also invested 15 million Euros. ‘It is a clever collaboration on a large scale’, says Ruud Grim from NSO. ‘It starts with a clear question: how can we increase crop yield? Or: how can smallholder farmers insure against crop failure? The answer is found in innovative service providers that combine satellite data with other information to supply the farmers with useful advice and insurance products. By working together with financially strong companies, agricultural information services and development organisations, one hundred thousand farmers or more can be reached.

The first results reported by G4AW are promising. If the programme goals are achieved, the income of smallholders, fishermen and livestock breeders in developing countries will be improved. Additionally the programme encourages the provision of economic services in both the target countries and in the Netherlands. This is a win-win situation. In 2017 a mid-term review will take place. The full results will be known in 2020.