Información geoespacial para lograr sistemas alimentarios sostenibles

Online trainings to enhancing national capacities on agroecological zoning in Lao PDR

01/05/2019 - 31/07/2020

Agro-ecological zoning provides crucial information related to land suitability for different crop, farming practices, use of irrigation, and identification of constraints among many other potential uses. Future challenges for food security require actions based on new, high impact technologies. To properly guide decision makers to achieve sustainable productions and soil and water resources conservation, FAO provides technical support to enhance national capacities in Lao PDR to develop national specific agroecological zoning tools, technologies and approaches.

Considering the current Covid-19 crisis, FAO adapts and provides online training courses in support to national experts from the Department of Agricultural Land Management (DALaM) in the Ministry of Agriculture of Lao PDR under the project “Strengthening Agro-Climatic Monitoring and Information Systems” (SAMIS). “I realized the number of tools and technologies that are available for collaborating at distance, even in a technical field such as remote sensing” claims Gianluca Franceschini, a remote sensing expert of the Geospatial Unit of FAO. 

DALaM has fully equipped one office with IT equipment, open-source software, access to cloud-based web-applications for GIS and image processing tools to organize virtual meetings, transferring data, sharing documents, ideas and information. Such facilities help working at distance for experts located the Ministry of Agriculture in Vientiane, FAO regional office in Bangkok, FAO headquarters in Rome, a team of developers at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok as well as other partners and stakeholders. 

This online training was organised for five weeks (one session per week), aimed at enhancing national capacities in developing and using a software for generating maps of suitability of crops under various conditions to support land use planning and adaptation to climate change in the country. The tool, written in Python, requires an understanding of several disciplines spanning from climate, soil, agricultural management and the capacity to read a complex code with multiple modules. The training used a combination of tools such as Jupyter Notebook, generating results, export of sample data, presentations to explain the theory behind these concepts. The entire training took place in a collaborative virtual platform where participants can share their screens, issues and support can be provided at distance.