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A new tool is designed to improve food security

Global Society & Global Goals
A new tool is designed to improve food security in Africa

Gro Intelligence, an artificial intelligence company that analyzes agricultural and climate data, recently launched the Food Security Tracker for Africa.

Gro Intelligence's global data and analytics platform is the basis for the Food Security Tracker for Africa. It provides data and insight on factors related to food security through an interactive map of Africa. Users can access information on crop production, crop stocks and demand, import price, drought conditions, and crop health for a specific major crop by clicking on a country.

"Gro' generated over 80 production forecast models for corn, rice, wheat, and soybeans across 49 countries using a machine learning yield prediction framework." "The models use real-time environmental data and historical production data to forecast available supply," says William Osnato, Senior Research Analyst at Gro Intelligence. "Once the growing season begins, the yield model aggregates weather and crop condition data at the district level to produce yield forecasts." Gro uses these forecasts, along with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) harvested area, to generate production forecasts," Osnato adds. These forecasts are updated on a weekly basis to ensure that users are working with the most up-to-date information.

Crop yield projections are compared to crop demand for consumption and export to calculate a stocks-to-use ratio for a specific crop and country over a 12-month period.

"Gro also used machine learning to develop the proprietary Gro Drought Index, the world's first high resolution global agricultural drought index," Osnato explains. "The values shown are weighted to demonstrate the impact of drought on crop production in each country." Gro uses a global dataset of cropland area values at the district level to accomplish this."

The food security tracker displays the generated assessment of crop stocks and drought status, as well as current crop import prices and crop health input from satellite imagery. When combined, this data provides a comprehensive picture of a country's food security in relation to a specific crop. The inputs to Gro Intelligence's platform are updated at least monthly, with more time sensitive inputs updated more frequently.

According to the World Food Programme, 2022 will be "a year of unprecedented hunger," with an estimated 828 million people going hungry every day. Conflict, climate change, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cost inflation are cited as major contributors. They also identify several African countries as hunger hotspots, including Nigeria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

The analysis of rising food security costs by Gro Intelligence reveals a disproportionately negative impact in Africa due to significant staple crop imports. They created the Food Security Tracker for Africa to address this inequality by providing "the public with greater access to critical data, which will help fill gaps in accurate supply and demand coverage for major crops in Africa," according to Osnato.

Osnato hopes that by highlighting "critical areas of food insecurity," the food security tracker will "help policymakers at the government level and aid organizations better allocate resources." The food security tracker's information is unlikely to reduce risk for growers. "Direct assistance and education at the farmer level would be the ideal outcome of informing policymakers and organizations about critical at-risk areas," says Osnato.

To tackle such a complex problem, it takes the initiative of all entities to make a difference. With the invention of such an innovation, the food shortage in poverty-stricken regions can be brought to attention in a sustainable and pervasive way.


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