To monitor and evaluate agricultural development in Gambia, one of Africa's poorest nations, satellites are mapping crops and land cover.
Named after the river that traverses the country from east to west, Gambia is the smallest nation on mainland Africa. Most of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood, but the country's land is constantly subject to soil erosion, degradation and seawater intrusion from the Atlantic Ocean. Irregular rains are also responsible for frequent crop losses.
Together with the Swiss Earth observation service provider Sarmap, the European Space Agency (ESA) is supporting the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development by mapping the whole country using radars on multiple satellites. These include observations from Japan's ALOS satellite, Italy's Cosmo-SkyMed mission and historical data from ESA's Envisat satellite. The project is establishing a baseline to understand current agricultural practices and document changes from year to year.
Image courtesy of ESA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency/Sarmap.