European Commission's “early warning” system predicts food production issues

The impact of drought and other disasters on food production will be addressed with the new warning system. ©iStock

The European Commission has launched an “early warning system” which aims to detect agricultural production hotspot countries so it can mitigate the impact of drought and other disasters on food production.

The Anomaly Hot Spots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) system has been developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), its scientific arm.

ASAP will produce monthly reports which identify countries where food is insecure and agricultural production is under threat and which could need aid support, changes to development programmes or require further investigation to counter any difficulties.

The launch of ASAP comes as the European Commission looks to combat the potential disastrous fallout from drought, freak weather and other natural occurring events which can lead to crop failure and other food production woes.

It covers 80 countries, mainly in Africa, and will use observational data of the earth as well as metrological analyses.

On top of its monthly wanting reports, ASAP will produce more localised data every 10 days and crop monitoring indicators.

Link up to other global warning systems

The new system will work in tandem with existing warning systems operated by the United Nation’s such as its Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food Programme warning systems.

It will also feed into other international mechanisms such as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification and Crop Monitor for Early Warning.

Scientists at the JRC have been monitoring metrological data for over 20 years but the European Commission believes that the technology it uses now needs updating

In addition, they believe its data systems have been “largely unexploited” when it comes to monitoring agricultural production.

Crop failures “not going to decrease”

The European Commission said: “With climate change and the increase in extreme events, the recurrence of droughts and the related crop failures are not going to decrease.

“The 2015-2016 El Niño phenomenon in Southern and Eastern Africa, as well as the current situation in Somalia, show that the climatic dimension remains a fundamental driver that should continue to be monitored and analysed.”




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