New agricultural data tool can help tackle growing food crisis in Africa

May 19, 2022

At the May 19 United Nations Security Council session on conflict and global food security, Gro Intelligence CEO Sara Menker spoke about the growing global food crisis, its disproportionate impact on low-income countries. income and policy measures that can be taken by governments. around the world to mitigate its effects.

As part of a broader response to this crisis, Gro Intelligence is working with the Rockefeller Foundation to make real-time agricultural data on African countries available to everyone.

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Gro Intelligence has launched the Food Security Tracker for Africa, the first publicly available interactive tool on key agricultural commodities for 49 African countries. The tool aims to create data transparency for countries where this was previously lacking, in light of the unprecedented challenges associated with the current global food crisis.

Understanding the impact of the global food crisis

Environmental, economic and political shocks cause food prices to rise rapidly and limit access to key staple crops. The resulting crisis has had a disproportionate impact on low-income countries. In a recent editorial for the New York TimesGro Intelligence CEO Sara Menker and Dr. Rajiv Shah, Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation, showed how rising wheat prices nearly doubled the price of bread, an essential staple, in Sudan.

Understanding the supply and demand of major crops – maize, soybeans, wheat and rice – across Africa in real time helps recognize the full impact of this crisis. Supply and demand balance sheets, which incorporate historical and forecast monthly supply and demand of major crops, turn all the forces that determine the price of a product into an actionable end-of-life supply figure. year. These estimates of a product’s “closing stocks” help forecast the price and identify future areas of risk.

Currently, this data is not easily accessible in one place, leaving a large gap in supply and demand coverage for major food crops in Africa. As a result, companies in the global agricultural supply chain face a major blind spot. Donors are unable to direct funds with precision. And governments are missing critical knowledge as they scramble to find alternative sources of supply amid the current global food crisis.

“By combining cutting-edge technology with humanitarian relief efforts and leveraging the private sector for public use, our collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation will help strengthen food security initiatives, fight inequality, and build a world sustainable for all,” said Ms. Menker. “With this new tool, governments, businesses and humanitarian organizations will be better equipped to anticipate food shortages, guide relief and improve strategic planning in response to the unprecedented level of supply and demand shocks that have caused global food insecurity”.

Leverage the power of the Gro platform

“To create a more complete picture, the Gro team, which includes both domain experts and technologists, leveraged our platform and the scaling power of our learning models. to quickly and accurately deliver the data needed,” said Will Osnato, principal research analyst at Gro Intelligence. “With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, we will be offering agricultural balance sheets showing supply and demand for corn, soybeans, wheat and rice for the next year. Additionally, the tool has been tested and reviewed by our team of analysts and methodologies are made available to fully encompass the transparency and objectivity of our platform.

Along with real-time supply and demand balance sheets, Gro’s Food Security Tracker for Africa makes key indicators publicly available for 49 African countries for the first time, including:

  • Gro production forecast – Production estimates are calculated using Gro’s machine learning-based yield forecast, which integrates real-time environmental data and historical production data to forecast supply.
  • Wholesale Inventory-to-use ratioA country’s reserves of a specific crop are an indicator of food security. An inventory to usage ratio shows the relationship between inventory and usage. Gro’s stock-to-use ratio is calculated as the total stock of food calories at the end of the marketing year — a one-year period designated by the growing season of a specific commodity. This number is then divided by the total food calorie demand (domestic consumption + exports) for each of the four crops in the selected region.
  • Weighted by cropland Gro drought index (IDG)The proprietary Gro Drought Index is the world’s first high-resolution global agricultural drought index. The GDI measures drought severity on a scale of “0” (no drought) to “5” (exceptional drought). The index is global, offering data at the continent, country, state and district level. The values ​​shown on the tool are weighted by the area of ​​cropland at the district level for each country.
  • Crop Area Weighted Vegetative Health Index (NDVI) – NDVI is a key satellite-based indicator of plant health, used to forecast crop production, supply and price. A lower NDVI signals lower production levels, suggesting higher risks of food insecurity.
  • PricesThe price series were selected based on the free on board (FOB) export prices of the largest import supplier for the selected country. If the country is not a major importer, representative world prices have been selected.

About this partnership

Gro Intelligence’s partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation represents a unique opportunity to harness the benefits of cutting-edge technology to advance humanitarian aid programs. When the private sector is leveraged for the public sector, it can help food security initiatives, address inequalities and build a sustainable world for all.

About Gro Intelligence

Gro Intelligence works with businesses, financial institutions, humanitarian organizations and governments on forecasting food security risks that could lead to food or hunger crises.

Our food safety platform serves as a single source of truth and an early warning center that provides up-to-date information, insights and analysis across the entire value chain. The platform predicts future trends and promotes proactive, evidence-based decision-making to ensure food security for our partners.

Learn more about our work with the public sector here.

For more information visit the Food Security Tracker for Africa here or contact us at [email protected].

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