FG, Chinese Academy sign MoU on enhanced crop yield



The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aerospace Information Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (AIRCAS) for technical assistance to improve crop yield.

This will ensure the deployment of space technology in its project ‘CropWatch’ and bridge the gap in food yields through a capacity building initiative.

Dr Felix Alle, Head Media and Corporate Communications of the NASRDA, confirmed the virtual signing of the MoU on Thursday in a statement issued in Abuja.

The capacity building initiative is in partnership with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Director-General (DG) of NASRDA, Dr Halilu Shaba, recalled the journey began in March 2021, while the signing of the documents in China was led by Mr Wu Yirong, the D-G of AIRCAS.

Shaba said the project was offering developing countries technical assistance through the CropWatch Innovative Cooperation Programme (ICP) to access its Earth Observation CropWatch system.

He also said the project was supported by the Alliance of International Science Organisations (ANSO) and would foster the implementation of the SDGs in developing countries.

“Increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner to meet the growing demand both nationally and globally while adapting to a changing climate are challenges that the agricultural sector need to overcome in the next decades.

“Currently, Nigeria does not have access to a timely national food information system either due to technology deficits or costs.

“However, it is against this backdrop, that NASRDA is collaborating with AIRCAS to customise the CropWatch ICP for agricultural monitoring.

“This will facilitate and stimulate agricultural monitoring for the advancement of the SDG goal of zero hunger through a joint research and capacity building with NASRDA,’’ he said.

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Shaba added that the country would be supported in utilising the cloud platform for monitoring crop condition, crop stress and production at national and subnational levels.

He further said that the technical assistance would enable relevant stakeholders to carry out near real time national or subnational crop monitoring.

“It will customise CropWatch to meet specific needs of Nigeria and strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders to identify suitable climate resilient agricultural practices.

“It will also improve crop production by integrating geospatial information for agricultural production,’’ he said.

The D-G said that the Agency would carry out researches in agriculture and related field using data from the nation’s satellites, NigeriaSat-1 and NigeriaSat-2.

Shaba said the agency was engaging seriously to ensure the assistance resulted to enhanced food production for the country, among other benefits.