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FCDO ODA allocations for 2021/22 were announced on 21 April 2021. Changes to individual programmes are underway. The information on this website may not reflect the latest allocated budgets for this year. This information will be updated in due course.

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UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Applying Astronomy Capability to Map an Invasive Weed: Leveraging Satellite Surveys to Inform "Famine Weed" Policy in Pakistan

Disclaimer: The data for this page has been produced from IATI data published by UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Please contact them (Show Email Address) if you have any questions about their data.

Project Data Last Updated: 10/11/2021

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--GCRF-ST_R003009_1


It is projected that food demand will more than double by 2050 due to climate changes. The new generation of Earth observation data, including the Sentinel missions, offer the potential to identify and counteract crop yield declines. Astronomers are experts in analysing large multiband imaging surveys by making sense of the plethora of information using smaller targeted observations at high resolution and/or with spectroscopic information. This is exactly the expertise needed to utilise these new Earth observations to address global food security challenges. In this proposal, for the first time, we build crossover capabilities by focussing on a critical threat to two of the four most important crops in Pakistan (>75% of total output). Beyond the specific outputs of this project, this multi-disciplinary collaboration between astronomy, Earth observations and food security will also deliver transformative open-source tools. They will have secondary benefits to the UK in addressing global food security, and could be applied to challenges such as blackgrass in wheat. Furthermore they showcase the huge potential of STFC capabilities to contribute to tackling global challenges. Food security in Pakistan is reliant on its ability to produce wheat and rice. A new invasive species of weed, the "Famine Weed" (Parthenium hysterophorus), has been identified as a critical threat to agriculture and human prosperity in the region. Parthenium affects crop yields by as much as 90%, and has serious impacts on human and livestock health, and is therefore this project is of great importance to Pakistan. The University of Manchester and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) have joined forces to define a key challenge area for STFC research: the use of astronomy image analysis for mapping Parthenium across Pakistan. With their Islamabad office, CABI have over sixty years of on-the-ground experience in Pakistan and a proven track record of undertaking agricultural research projects in this region. Combined with the world-leading expertise in astronomy image analysis and optical instrumentation engineering at Manchester, we propose a four-stage project to provide detailed mapping of Parthenium in wheat and rice agriculture for the major arable regions of Pakistan. Initially, we will aggregate and preprocess multispectral satellite imagery (WP1) and implement a campaign to collect high quality ground reference data (WP2) which is currently lacking. These will be combined to produce a computing framework for the detection of Parthenium in crops across the country. This will deliver static maps for the current extent of the weed (WP3) as well as a mechanism for future monitoring to be adopted by policy makers (WP4). We also place a strong emphasis on local academic capacity building through employment of local researchers, delivery of technical workshops, data hack challenge events and a researcher exchange program between Manchester and universities in Punjab (WP4). Impact is achieved via three interlinked outcomes: 1) Policy makers become aware of and able to use satellite data for decision-making in agriculture, livestock, and human health; 2) Improved methods allow for automated mapping and monitoring of the distribution of Parthenium in rice and wheat fields; and 3) Pakistani researchers develop strengthened capacities in their fields that contribute to their ongoing work.


Our mission: To contribute to the improved management of parthenium in Pakistan by applying STFC expertise to monitor and map its presence. Main objectives: 1. Improved methods for mapping and monitoring the distribution of Parthenium 2. Strengthened human and technical capacity for use of satellite data 2. Better and more parthenium distribution data available to and used by policy makers for decision-making in agriculture, livestock, and human health Our main objectives will be accomplished through a series of sub-objectives divided into four work packages WP1 - Earth observation data acquisition and pre-processing 1.1 Identification of data products for Parthenium monitoring 1.2 Satellite data acquisition 1.3 Pre-processing operations through an automated pipeline WP2 - Multi-scale field data collection 2.1 Development of ground-based imaging and field protocols 2.2 Low resolution field data collection (large spatial scale) 2.3 High resolution field data collection (small spatial scale) 2.4 Census of historical field datasets WP3 - Satellite and field data integration 3.1 Identification and development of methods 3.2 Predictive modelling of Parthenium in fields using low resolution ground data 3.3 Augmentation of low resolution ground data with high resolution ground data 3.4 Estimated distribution ofpParthenium in Pakistan WP4 - Research into use (stakeholder engagement) 4.1 Hack-a-thon in Pakistan to engage local scientists in Parthenium research 4.2 Technical workshops for training on remote sensing in agriculture 4.3 Policy workshop and briefs for parthenium control

Status - Post-completion More information about project status
Project Spend More information about project funding
Participating Organisation(s) More information about implementing organisation(s)

Sectors groups as a percentage of country budgets according to the Development Assistance Committee's classifications.


A comparison across six financial years of forecast spend and the total amount of money spent on the project to date.

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