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bility and cost of satellite data, and financial constraints in gathering ground data that can be correlated to the remote sensing data. It has, however, potential in improving agri­cultural planning in developing countries particularly in ad­dressing food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development issues.
       If combined with other sources of data (e.g., traditional method agrometeorological data collection) remote sens­ing can improve accuracy and effectiveness of various ag­ricultural planning in developing countries. For example, RS estimates of crop yields and production of staple foods based on preharvest crop acreage and production can serve as input to a number of policy level decisions on buffer food stock (Van Neil and Mc Vicar, 2001).
        Remote sensing data can provide a sampling frame construction for agricultural statistics, crop acreage estima­tion, and cropland data layer or map (Allen, Hanuschak, and Craig, 2002; Saha and Jonna, 1994; Rao, 2005). Map­ping soils can reveal soil properties across production fields (Dalal and Henry, 1986; Shonk et al., 1991; Mzuku et al., 2005). Remote sensing information also aids analysis of soil degradation and risk of soil erosion in agricultural lands (Thine, 2004).
       By combining RS with GIS techniques, and hydrologic modeling, irrigation management can be improved for more complex water management tasks such as irrigation system performance evaluation,  snowmelt runoff forecasts, res­ervoir sedimentation and storage loss assessments, priori-tization of watersheds and their treatment, environmental impact assessment of developmental projects, prospecting of under ground water, locale specific water harvesting and recharge, interlinking of rivers and monitoring of spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall (Thiruvengadachari and Sakthivadivel, 1996). Given more time and resources, applications of RS in agricultural planning can be greatly enhanced in developing countries.
       Remote sensing can also be applied to global agroenvi-ronmental health and resources monitoring and assessment. Remote sensing can be used to assess biodiversity through (1) direct mapping of individual plants or associations of single species in relatively large, spatially contiguous units; (2) habitat mapping and predictions of species distribution based on habitat requirements; and (3) establishment of di­rect relationships between spectral radiance values recorded from remote sensors and species distribution patterns re­corded from field observations (Nagendra, 2001; Zutta, 2003; Rao, 2005).
       Satellite  RS  is  increasingly  becoming  an  important source of agrometeorological data (humidity, rainfall, tem­perature, wind, global radiation)  as it can complement traditional methods of agrometeorological data collection (Sivakumar and Hinsman, 2004). Indian satellite systems, for example, operationally support disaster management by providing emergency communication links, cyclone warn­ings, flood forecasting data, rainfall monitoring and crop condition assessments (Rao, 2005).
       Remote sensing can be used to globally monitor and as­sess natural resources and ecosystem for sustainable devel­opment, providing more accurate and timely information on the condition and health of agroenvironmental resources.


There are, however, some technical issues and limitations of current remote sensing technologies use (Table 6-4). Information and communications technology (ICT) ICT models can be mainstreamed and upscaled to enhance delivery of services and access to market.

Market information. In Uganda, ICT is providing farmers with reliable price data for better farm gate prices. A market information service network reaching over 7 million people each week uses conventional media, Internet, and mobile phones to enable farmers, traders, and consumers to obtain accurate market information. Over the past four years the number of markets dominated by farmers' associations has increased from 4 to 8 (Ferris, 2004).

Weather forecasting. In Africa, ICT is enabling more rapid dissemination of locally analyzed weather data. The Euro­pean Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellite is pro­viding detailed data and high-resolution spectral and spa­tial images that are expected to revolutionize the process of forecasting short-term extreme weather events, such as thunderstorms, fog and small but intense depressions that can lead to devastating storms, as well as other applications, e.g., agrometeorology, climate monitoring, and natural re­source management (Taube, 2006).

Web-based marketing systems. New business models are rapidly evolving that can suit the needs of small farm­ers, e.g., the www.B2Bpricenow.com a free agriculture e-marketplace that provides updates via SMS messaging to farmers in the Philippines (www.digitaldividend.org/pubs/ pubs_01_overview.htm). In India, e-Choupal kiosks of the agriexporter ITC Limited and "Parry's Corners" of EID Parry agricultural company provide farmers with valuable information, and allow them to sell their produce directly to these companies eliminating the middleman. E-commerce platform can also allow small farmers and farmer coopera­tives to expand distribution channels for their produce (Ni-nomiya, 2004).

E-consultation, advisory system and training. ICT can pro­vide farmers with electronic forums and e-consultations by email, or permit the participation of a wider electronic com­munity in location-based seminars (Painting, 2006). Farm­ers can also access tools for both diagnosing field problems and making crop management decisions  (e.g., TropRice [ .htm#Introduction_to_TropRice.htm] and Rice Knowledge Bank [www.knowledgebank.irri.org]). The so called "virtual academy for farmers" in the Philippines and India uses ICT through a virtual network that provides information on-demand, online learning and content development of information based on farmers' needs. Trained farmers and extension workers serve as resource persons in cyber com­munities thereby making ICTs accessible and user-friendly.

E-governance. India is enhancing rural development pro­grams and improving the delivery of public services with the use of government computerization schemes, satellite com-