Farm data set to get space tech boost

Aim is to avoid inaccuracies that tend to muddle growth estimates for economy

New Delhi: The quality of India’s agriculture sector statistics could soon improve with the government tapping satellite imagery technologies to upgrade the yield estimation and acreage measurement exercise.

India’s farm output forecasts tend to see wide variations between preliminary reports and the final estimates, which typically are released well over a year after sowing. Inaccurate farm data not only ends up distorting market prices for food items but also muddle growth estimates for the overall economy.

“If we can combine traditional technology of acreage, yield estimation with satellite imagery through a small hand-held device, in which — when acreage is recorded and crop cutting experiments are done — it will be possible for you to not only get the traditional estimates but also the geospatial coordinates on which this experiment was done,” said TCA Anant, Chief Statistician of India. He said work was underway on implementing this as the requisite technology-backed applications were in place.

‘Nudge to adoption’

“It is (now) a question of working with all the state officials and the huge administrative machinery in the districts to adopt it. That work is going on,” he said, speaking at a conference on geospatial technologies hosted by Assocham.

The statistics and programme implementation ministry is also working with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) to deploy geospatial technology for sample surveys, beginning with urban areas.

The Urban Frame Survey will soon be completed and provide up-to-date maps of urban areas, which, the Chief Statistician said, could be used for sampling purposes with necessary location indicators.

“… To modernise our system of developing urban sample frames, we would be combining the satellite image of urban areas with ground-mapping of the satellite image to permit you to develop an urban frame,” said Mr. Anant.

“The advantage of this is that it is updated much more frequently than any physical ground survey system could have done,” he added.

Source: The Hindu

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