Global Monitoring for Food Security (GMFS): Ten Years of Operational Monitoring of Africa's Agriculture
Gilliams, Sven1; Royer, Antoine1; Haub, carsten2; Bakary, Djaby3; Holecz, Francesco4; Ceccarelli, Tomaso5; Haas, Eva6; Bydekerke, Lieven1

Global Monitoring for Food Security (GMFS) provided Earth Observation based services and encouraged partnerships in monitoring agriculture and related environmental processes in Africa.
GMFS was part of the European Space Agency's (ESA) contribution to the European Union / ESA Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme. The GMFS partnership started in 2003 and consisted of seven European institutions with different fields of expertise: VITO, C-ITA, EARS, EFTAS, SARMAP, ULg and GeoVille. In addition to the European partners, there were two regional African partners: The Application en Agrométéorologie et Hydrologie Opérationelle (AGRHYMET) Centre in Niger and the Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Kenya.
The partnership aimed to establish operational service networks for crop monitoring in support of Food Security Monitoring Systems, to serve policy makers and operational users, by ensuring sustainable integration and application of those solutions into a well-nodded stakeholder's network in Africa.
The GMFS partnership brought together data and information providers in order to assist stakeholders, in national and international organisations, to better implement their policies towards sustainable development and food security. It contributed to the development and provision of operational service chains and improved access to satellite data.
GMFS users were the driving force behind the implementation of the GMFS activities. At international level GMFS closely worked together with FAO and WFP and at national level close working relations were established with ministries and public authorities in Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Malawi, Sudan, Mali and Zimbabwe.
GMFS provided multi-scale information on Early Warning, Agricultural Monitoring, and Support to Crop and Food Security Assessment Missions. GMFS Early Warning were based upon the Crop Yield and Vegetation Monitoring Service (CYVM) and the Soil Moisture Monitoring Service. Focus of these services lied on detecting anomalies of the current growing season as compared to the long term avarege, the 5-10 year average or the past growing season. For the CYVM service this long term averages were based upon MERIS RR and or SPOT-VGT. The GMFS Agricultural Monitoring service type consisted of three components; the Agricultural Mapping Service, the SAR Knowledge Transfer Service and the Support to the Optimisation of National Agricultural Surveys Service. Its goal was the production of up-to-date and accurate high resolution maps of the cultivated or cropped area at national level and the support of national institutes in using these maps in their agricultural surveys. Although these services have already been implemented successfully in Sudan, Kenya and Malawi, one of the main bottle necks for this service type was the availability of high resolution optical imagery during the agricultural season. The CFSAM Support Service provided ad hoc assessment reports in support of the CFSAM. On the request of national governments, FAO/GIEWS and WFP conduct yearly Food Security Assessment Missions for those countries facing widespread and serious food emergencies. GMFS provided supplementary Earth Observation-based information on overall crop growth conditions, plus yield forecasts as per best availability. The purposes of the information provided by GMFS were: (i) to help plan and carry out the CFSAM by identifying priority areas to visit; (ii) to provide a yield estimate for the key crop based on Earth Observation data sources.
Over these past 10 years, the above mentioned services have progressively been transferred to the African users. This transfer of technology has been made possibly by two factors. Firtsly there was the emphasis of the GMFS consortium on training and capacity building. In all service users received training session not only within their country but experts were also invited to Europe for intense on the job training session. Secondly there is the willingness of the African national institutes to invest in Earth Observation by means of training of personell and infrastructure. This willingness of African Decision Makers is greately influenced by the prospect of receiving operationally, high quality data free of charge. This document will focus on a couple of show cases of the GMFS services, on the lessons learned of 10 years of operational remote sensing based agricultural monitoring in Africa and the future of these services keeping in mind future sensor missions.