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Thursday, May 31, 2012

FAO develops online portal to unlock food potentials

Thermal zones (baseline period: 1961-1990)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with the partnership of International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) recently developed an online data portal in order to help unlock the planet's potential on food.
The data portal, NaijaAgroNet learnt is named Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) Portal and developed in order to assist in unlocking the planet's potential to feed the rapidly growing population.
The United Nations' agency affirmed that there is need to increase the global food production to 60 per cent by 2050 as the world population is expected to rise above 9 billion.
FAO revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that the portal is a planning tool designed specially to help identify areas of increased global food production while maintaining natural resource base and facing the challenge of climate change.
FAO identified water scarcity as one of the limiting factor for area expansion that intensification of food production occurs within a changing climate, thereby requiring adaptation and mitigation.
Director of FAO's Land and Water Division, Parviz Koohafkan said GAEZ would help identify where there are ‘bridgeable yield gaps' and what causes them, allowing for the formulation of appropriate investment policies with the provision of appropriate support for farmers to help boost food production.
FAO recent study revealed that crop production by small farmers can run as low as 30 to 40 per cent of potential in some areas in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The study also made known that the Sub-Sahara Africa is the region with the highest yielding gap in cereal. Africa as a whole also recorded about 1.2 tones of cereal per hectare compared to an average yield of some 3 tons per hectare in the developing world as a whole.
The online data seeks to enhance planners' and decision makers' capacity to estimate agricultural production potentials and variability under different environmental and management scenarios, including climatic conditions, management regimes, water availability and levels of inputs.
Yinka Awosanya/LS
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