This work has been undertaken by an ad hoc team of stakeholders with an interest in the development of an Asia-Rice Crop Estimation & Monitoring (Asia-RiCE) component for the GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative.

GEOGLAM aims to enhance agricultural production estimates through the use of Earth observations. It was developed in response to the G20 Agricultural Ministers' concern about reducing market volatility for the world's major crops. The initiative builds on recent advances in Earth observation technologies. These technologies have great potential to contribute to timely forecasts of crop production and early warnings of potentially significant harvest shortfalls.

Importance of Rice Crop Monitoring

Rice is the staple food for more than half of humanity - with 90% of the world crop grown and consumed in Asia. Global rice production has increased continuously in the last half-century, since the Green Revolution. In the same period, the use of chemical inputs, the introduction of modern high-yielding varieties with short growing cycles, and the increased access to machinery and irrigation systems have led to a linear growth of the crop yields (+0.05ton/ha/year) as well as to an increase of the number of crops per year (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2009).

This higher cropping intensity (from single to double or triple crop) together with the conversion of non arable land to arable land have resulted in a drastic increase of rice harvested areas in the 60s and 70s (+1.4Mha/year) which slowed down in the 80s and 90s (+0.46Mha/year) and has tended to stabilize over the last ten years as a result of approaching the limits of land use and of cropping intensity, however there is a large inter-annual variability due to climatic conditions and socio-economic factors. As both the increase in yield and in planted areas will be facing limitations in the next decades, it is unlikely that rice production can keep increasing at the same rate.

Meanwhile, world population, and therefore demand for food, has increased linearly over the last fifty years (+80M/year), and is projected to keep growing until around 2050 up to 9 billion inhabitants (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division 2004). This conjuncture is prone to create tensions in food markets that could lead to world food price crises - as in 2008 when the price of rice more than doubled in only seven months - and eventually to famines. In this context of price instability and threatened food security, tools to monitor rice production in real-time are highly needed by governments, traders and decision makers.

Accurate information is needed on the spatial distribution of rice fields, water resource management, risk occurrence and annual production projections. However, most agricultural surveys rely mainly on statistics based on limited ground samplings at which data are extrapolated on a national scale. Although the census can provide statistical estimates, slow and unsystematic collection of data can limit the ability to make timely decisions.

Moreover, rice agriculture is strongly linked to environmental issues, from water management to climate change. For these reasons, long term inter-annual monitoring is also required in order to study the production and cultural impacts of these factors. Satellite remote sensing can support this long term monitoring requirement at regional and global scales.

Given the importance of rice, Asian participants in GEOGLAM have formed an ad hoc team and taken the initiative to develop a plan for the inclusion of rice crop monitoring as an integral part of the GEOGLAM initiative.


This document describes a work plan for the definition and development of the Asia-RiCE component for GEOGLAM. The objectives are: The regional activities suggested by the Asia-RiCE Work Plan will be consistent with and undertaken within the broader GEOGLAM Work Plan and there will be a number of interdependencies and interchanges between the two Plans.

Agricultural Information Requirements

Agricultural information requirments are being gathered on behalf of GEOGLAM by an ad hoc group within CEOS tasked with converting the product requirements into satellite data requirements. This group participated in a GEOGLAM User Requirements meeting in July 2012, and rice-crop specific inputs to this were provided by the Asia-RiCE team.

The agricultural information needs defined by GEOGLAM cover a broad range of areas, including: monitoring and early warning systems; precision agriculture; control; and, statistical systems. These needs are summarised in Appendix A, and specific rice crop needs are summarised in Section 3.

The CEOS ad hoc group will translate the GEOGLAM User Requirments gathered into an analysis of the satellite scene and data volumes. The objective of this analysis will be to understand the scope and scale of the satellite data requirements. This scope and scale will then be consider by CEOS leadership, and the development of a full global acquisition strategy may be considered.

Existing and Planned Systems and Capacities

GEOGLAM will evolve as a system of systems, consistent with the overall approach of GEO in developing the GEOSS. It will leverage and coordinate existing activities and capacities wherever possible for mutual benefit of all contributing countries and programmes. The same principles and approach will apply to Asia-RiCE as a regional contribution to GEOGLAM. Asia-RiCE must connect and seek synergies with and contributions from a range of ongoing and planned activities in Asia which are relevant to its objectives.

AFSIS - The ASEAN Food Security Information System Project: Due to growing concern about food security in regional communities, the Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry of the ASEAN Member States plus China, Japan and Korea approved the Project in their meeting held in October 2002 in Lao PDR. The overall objective of the Project is to strengthen food security in the region through the systematic collection, analysis and dissemination of food security related information. The 1st Phase of the Project had a period of five years, from 2003 to 2007. It was led and coordinated by Thailand, in particular, the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. The Statistics Department (SD), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Japan is the donor through ASEAN Trust Funds. Prior to the end of the 1st Phase, at the AMAF +3 Meeting in September 2005 in Philippines, the Ministers recognised the contribution of AFSIS Project to promoting the concept of regional food security and the importance of continued improvement in the details of food security data and information among Member States and regionally. Accordingly, an Implementation Plan for a 2nd Phase was prepared and endorsed by the AMAF +3 Meeting in November 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand. The 2nd Phase had a period of 5 years from 2008 - 2012 with financial support from MAFF Japan. It continued the objective to strengthen food security in the region and the main activities of the 1st Phase. The additional elements including: Early Warning Information, Agricultural Commodity Outlook and Mutual Technical Cooperation were also included in the 2nd Phase. The 3rd phase of AFSIS project plan is under discussion.

APEC food security initiatives: APEC has a range of food security objectives, including the Policy Partnership on Food formed in 2011 as the primary forum for discussing issues related to food security, the partnership brings together individuals from the private and public sector to help facilitate investment, liberalize trade and market access and support sustainable development. APEC has an Asia Pacific Food Security Information Platform website: http://www.apip-apec.com.

National crop monitoring systems and demonstrators are underway or planned in a number of Asian countries, including India, Thailand, China, and Indonesia; a number of bilateral development programmes are underway to explore the operationalisation of radar, optical, and passive microwave satellite data, including collaborations between Japan and Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Japan's space agency (JAXA) develops and operates a web-based Earth observation information dissemination system to provide agro-weather information such as drought index, rain fall, solar radiation, land surface temperature, using Japan's satellites (GCOM-W1, TRMM, MTSAT) and others in cooperation with University of Tokyo as a one of ASEAN+3 Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) new project. This proposed agro-weather information system will be utilized for drought early warning not only in Indonesia and Vietnam but also in other ASEAN countries.

The goal of Asia-RiCE is to coordinate the evolution of a system of systems which will be greater than the sum of the individual parts and which will help sharing of know-how, develop capacity and support region-wide capabilities that reflect the inter-dependent nature of the food price and security challenges.


A broad range of stakeholders are of relevance to the challenges being addressed by Asia-RiCE: Participation in the ad hoc team which has developed this Work Plan has been predominantly by national implementing agency representatives. However the intention is to ensure that the full spectrum of stakeholders are engaged in the implementation of the Plan. Appendix D details current membership of the ad hoc team.