HYDERABAD: The first ‘satellite remote-sensing laboratory’ of the country was inaugurated on Tuesday at the crop reporting services centre functioning in the agriculture extension division office.

Agriculture Secretary Ahmed Bakhsh Narejo inaugurated the lab established in collaboration with the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The laboratory would monitor crop, forecast and estimate the area and production of agricultural crops round the year through satellite remote sensing technology. It would ensure accuracy of agricultural data.

This satellite based system facilitates observation of ground realities in a scientific manner.

The system assists in monitoring the conditions of crops, enables estimation of yields and provide information on prevailing conditions in different agriculture areas to help planners, policymakers and end-users take timely measures to maintain quality of crop.

In this system, initially activities are restricted to monitoring the main cash crops, including wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane. Its working could be enhanced in future.

The crop reporting services centre laboratory would be able to issue a monthly web-based bulletin on crop situation and statistics. The project would be carried out in Sindh’s districts of Hyderabad, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Tando Mohammad Khan, Badin, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Thatta, Larkana, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Shikarpur, Dadu, Jacobabad, Naushahro Feroze and Nawabshah.

The assistant directors, Crop Reporting Services Centre (CRSC) Sindh of each district, have been given mobile phone sets, cellular phone internet connectivity along with satellite supported software to collect information from field and send to the laboratory.

Technical staff of the programme has already been trained by Suparco in Islamabad and Karachi and University of Maryland, USA, about crop reporting enhancement by using remote sensing and geographic information system. Along with crop reporting staff, three researchers from the fields of agronomy, remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) would be part of this system to run and get the required results.

Suparco Director Abdul Ghafoor and Manager Hayat Khan gave a technical presentation about “monitoring of crops through satellite technology”. Sindh Agriculture Director General Hidayatullah Chhajro welcomed the guests. CRSC director Noor Mohammad Baloch briefed the audience on traditional agriculture information/data gathering of crops.

Sindh Secretary Agriculture, Supply and Prices Ahmed Bakhsh Narejo appreciated efforts taken by Suparco, FAO and CRSC for establishment of the laboratory and field system. He promised that the department would take all necessary steps for sustainability of the programme.

Agriculture Engineering and Water Management DG Agha Zafarullah Durrani, Agriculture Research Director General Dr Atta Hussain Soomro and other senior officers and field staff of the department were present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2014

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