The first-ever satellite remote-sensing laboratory that will monitor crops and forecast yield has opened in Hyderabad.
The facility was inaugurated by the agriculture secretary, Ahmed Baksh Narejo at the Agriculture Extension directorate in Hyderabad on Tuesday. The technology will help government planners and policymakers to measure crop yields as well, he said.
Initially, Narejo said, the laboratory will work on the cash crops, such as wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane, but its operations will be expanded to cover all crops in subsequent steps. With this technology, the Crop Reporting Services Centre in Sindh will be able to issue a monthly web-based bulletin on crop situation and statistics.
The lab will cover the districts of Hyderabad, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Thatta, Larkana, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Shikarpur, Dadu, Jacobabad, Naushero Feroze and Nawabshah.
According to the secretary, the technical staff of the lab was trained by the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco). They were also sent to the University of Maryland in the United States, to learn crop-reporting enhancement using remote-sensing and geographic information system (GIS). Three researchers from the fields of agronomy, remote-sensing and GIS are part of the staff as well, he added.
Suparco director Abdul Ghafoor also gave a detailed briefing on monitoring crops through satellite technology.
He pointed out that the lab has been established in coordination with Suparco and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2014.