MARS Bulletins for Food Security

More than 40 regional and annual bulletins are published each year describing the agricultural and pastoral situation in the monitored countries and providing qualitative and, where possible, quantitative yield forecasts.

All these bulletins can be downloaded from the Bulletins & Publication section of this website or through our FTP Server

Current bulletins:

The Somalia Bulletin

Somalia is facing a severe political crisis since the beginning of the 90’ies leading to a very instable food security situation. Many international organizations are involved in food aid projects, but the absence of any kind of legal authority makes the interventions very difficult and risky. Hence the interest to produce independent and frequently updated information on the food security situation in the country and, in particular, on the monitoring food crops. The bulletin was conceived as a source of information for food analysts, who may use it, preferably in combination with other sources of data and in particular ground data.

The MARS project produces a 10-day experimental bulletin which monitors the agricultural vegetation in Somalia. Based on the data and methods described above and in particular on AFRICNDVI, it has been produced every 10 days since August 2001 and numerous reactions and comments from users have lead to substantial modifications and improvements. The 10-daily format was replaced by a monthly bulletin in June 2007.

The Ethiopia Bulletin

The Crop Monitoring bulletin on Ethiopia is produced every month during the main agriculture season of the country (Meher, from April to November). The bulletin is mainly based on the rainfall of each decade as forecasted by the ECMWF (European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts) atmospherical model, and on the NDVI vegetation index (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) calculated from the VEGETATION (VGT) sensor onboard SPOT 5 satellite.
Rainfall, Cumulative rainfall and NDVI data are calculated and analyzed for different administrative units relevant for agriculture production. Focus is currently on the main crops : sorghum, teff and maize. The analyze will be extended to barley-wheat and grassland in the near future. Rainfall and NDVI profiles of the season are compared with the previous years and with the last 7 years average profiles to assess crop conditions and potential end of the season yields.
Feedback from EU delegation, FAO and WFP colleagues, and Ethiopian institutions are helping us to improve the bulletin.

The Eritrea Bulletin

The bulletin is mainly based on two crop growth indicators, where one is the rainfall of each dekad as computed by the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts) atmospherical model, and the other is the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) coming from the VEGETATION (VGT) sensor onboard the French SPOT 5 satellite.
The most evident changes for each dekad are analysed at State level and are then shortly described in the “Highlights” section for each Region. Towards the end of the crop season a quantitative yield/production estimate will be released, as it is currently the case for other MARS-FOOD bulletins (Somalia, Mediterranean Basin, Russia and Central Asia). The bulletin is based only on remote sensing and modelled agrometeorological data and is intended to be used by food security analysts together with field information and more detailed data.

The Kenya Bulletin

The MARS project produces a new monthly bulletin for Kenya since May 2007. The bulletin monitors both agricultural and pastoral vegetation in Kenya. Based on remote sensing and modeling data and in particular on CNDVI.

The Uganda Bulletin

The MARS project produces a new monthly bulletin for Uganda since May 2007. The bulletin monitors both agricultural and pastoral vegetation in Uganda. Based on remote sensing and modeling data and in particular on CNDVI.

The South America Bulletin

The South America Bulletin has the objective of generating information on crop monitoring for Mercosur and Bolivia. The Mercosur was created by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay with the goal of creating a common market/customs union between the participating countries, on the basis of various forms of economic co-operation. Mercosur has become a major world player in agricultural and food production. On the other hand, Bolivia is a major recipient of food aid in South America, although it has some areas of intensive agriculture. Most of the region has two cropping seasons: summer crops (e.g. soybean, maize, sorghum) and winter crops (e.g. winter maize, wheat, barley). Other crops such as sugar cane, cotton, coffee, citrus, potatoes and beans are also of economic importance to the countries involved.
The methodology for crop is based on decadal analysis of agro-meteorological data and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Meteorological data are derived from numerical meteorological model from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF), at Reading-UK, and processed by METEOCONSULT (NL). SPOT-VEGETATION data will be used as a basis for calculation of the remote sensing indicators of crop growth. The spectral component (NDVI – Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is pre-processed by VITO (BE).
The bulletins are presented in a monthly basis. A Scientific Network with research institutions from the region will provide reference information for calibration and improvements in data accuracy.

Pilot Bulletin for Central Asian Countries

The Bulletin is dedicated to the analysis of the agro-meteorological situation in the following countries: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
The monitoring of the agro-meteorological situation is based on the analysis of the dekadal meteorological data, dekadal maps of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Indexes (NDVI), dekadal maps of the Dry Matter Production, and statistical crop yield and areas data for the last 11 years. Meteorological data are derived from the outputs of the numerical meteorological model from ECMWF (UK), and are prepared for the analysis by METEOCONSULT (NL). SPOT-VEGETATION data are used as a basis for calculation of the remote sensing indicators of crop growth. Data are preprocessed by VITO (BE).
The Bulletin has the following structure. The first pages contain the main results of the analysis. The following pages are dedicated to the analysis of separate indicators of the crop growth during the period of analysis.
The bulletin is intended to be produced every two months.

Bulletins produced in the past:

The East Africa Bulletin (2002 – 20007)

In 2002 MARS Food-Aid started publishing a regional crop monitoring bulletin based mainly on agrometeorological analysis, in combination with remote sensing techniques. These bulletins are produced monthly from March to October and cover the IGAD sub-region.

The system already permits to perform real-time monitoring and provides an early assessment of the crop situation to food security analysts. During the 2002 crop season, MARS-FOODAID started warning about the food crisis in Ethiopia and Eritrea as from July (4 months before the international press) through its pilot bulletins.

Feedback and comments from FAO colleagues and users in DG-AIDCO, EU delegations and FAO-Global Early Warning and Information System (GIEWS) are helping to improve and refine the system. Further contacts with the national food security units in the region are important to check the validity of the products proposed.

During the course of 2003, the access to a historical archive of meteorological data will make it possible to test and calibrate the quantitative yield forecast against a statistically valid series.

It is also intended to use the vegetation index (NDVI) time series to estimate the planting dates in the near future.

The present bulletin shows the results for maize but it will be possible to apply the same approach to other crops by changing the crop coefficients (Kc, Ky, etc.). Moreover, it is intended to extend the analysis to other countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

Finally, it is planned to develop an “automatic” data production chain to simplify the process of bulletin elaboration and to develop an interactive user interface to facilitate access and interpretation of the information produced.

The Sudan Bulletin (2005 – 2006)

The bulletin is mainly based on two crop growth indicators, where one is the rainfall of each dekad as computed by the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts) atmospherical model, and the other is the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) coming from the VEGETATION (VGT) sensor onboard the French SPOT 5 satellite.
The most evident changes for each dekad are analysed at State level and are then shortly described in the “Highlights” section for each Region. Towards the end of the crop season a quantitative yield/production estimate will be released, as it is currently the case for other MARS-FOOD bulletins (Somalia, Mediterranean Basin, Russia and Central Asia).

Production of this bulletin was stopped in 2007, when the technical knowledge was transferred to the Sudan Meteorological Authority (SMA) in a dedicated training session. The methodologies developed by FOOD SEC are since then a substantial part of the Sudan Seasonal Monitor regularly released by the SMA.

 

 

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