Improve Agricultural Monitoring Systems through Satellite Imagery for Iran


With an average rainfall of 240 mm per year, Iran is a dryland area. Approximately 90% of the territory is classified as arid and semi-arid.

The agriculture sector accounts for 11% of GDP, employing about 30% of the population. Agriculture, including forestry and fisheries, is the source of income for 23 million people (30%) in the rural areas of Iran. Wheat, rice and barley are grown on 70% of cultivated land, with wheat - the country's main staple - accounting for over half of total crop production.

Poor soil and water scarcity are a major constraint to agricultural production with just one-third of Iran's total surface area suitable for farming. Only 12% of the total land area is under cultivation (arable land, orchards and vineyards) but less than one-third of the cultivated area is irrigated; the rest is devoted to dryland farming. This and the changing temperatures and rainfall patterns suggest an urgent need for a comprehensive, systematic and accurate agricultural monitoring system.

Based on the requests of the Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture (MJA) FAO is assisting in the establishment of this operational agricultural monitoring system using tools and geospatial technology to improve reporting on agriculture and encourage agricultural development and adaptation in the face of climate change.

The primary objective of the project is the establishment of a demonstrator prototype, in a limited number of priority provinces that will improve the quality of field data collection and reporting, and consequently the Government's strategies for increasing and diversifying production potential. It will focus on the identification of strategies for acreage and yield estimation, using the existing monitoring methodology, optimized through remote sensing. Multi-temporal satellite images will enable MJA to collect and use near-real time information on a range of crops for the selected provinces.