On July 4, 2022, the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Beijing through an online event with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria to boost collaboration on crop monitoring with the goal to help the country achieve Zero Hunger goal, which is among 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) described by the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The objective of the MOU is to provide the framework for future partnership and collaborations between AIR and NARSDA, aiming to promote the application of space technology in crop monitoring research in Nigeria from the aspects of cooperative research and capacity building.
AIR is responsible of customizing its CropWatch system for Nigeria, providing an agricultural remote sensing monitoring cloud platform as well as technical assistance including capacity building activities to help the country boost in food security early warning.
Correspondingly, NASRDA is responsible for organizing events on capacity building, coordinating, and conducting joint field survey and model calibration, and providing system interface in local languages. Supported by the technical trainings, NASRDA will operate the customized cloud platform in a sustainable way.
Thanks to the research team of Prof. WU Bingfang, AIR has developed CropWatch, a remote sensing-based crop monitoring system, which has been widely recognized as a reliable cloud platform for assessment of staple crops at global, regional, national, and sub-national scales.
At the signing ceremony, Prof. WU Yirong, Director General of AIR hoped that a shaped CropWatch system customized for Nigeria would benefit the country. He also hoped that the MOU would open a door for the two sides to cooperate in even wider areas in the field of aerospace information.
Dr. Halilu Ahmed Shaba, Director General of NASRDA said that Nigerian agricultural production and food systems need to undergo a profound transformation with earth observation techniques like CropWatch. He also said that the project came at the right time because NASRDA strategic mandate states categorically the need to drive the country's agricultural sector to attain sustainable development using space technology.
The collaboration between AIR and NASRDA is based on the Program "CropWatch Innovative Cooperation Program for Agricultural Monitoring (CropWatch-ICP)" which is supported by the Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO). Prof. CAO Jinghua, Executive Director of ANSO Secretariat, congratulated the signing of the MOU, saying that the MOU would foster actual cooperation and contribute to achieving food security and Zero Hunger goal.
The collaboration was also supported by CropWatch4-GEOGLAM project and Big Earth Data Science Engineering Program (CASEarth).
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