Global Agriculture

ICRISAT works with NASA, USGS and others to map the world’s croplands

06 September 2021, US: ICRISAT has mapped the croplands of South Asia and contributed to the mapping of croplands in Africa through a global effort to accurately determine the spread of agriculture in the world. Detailed maps at 30-m spatial resolution, higher resolution than previously available, produced under the NASA-supported GFSAD project show the world had 1.873 billion hectares of cropland in 2015.

Using Landsat time-series big data and random forest machine learning algorithms on the Google Earth Engine cloud, ICRISAT mapped the spatial distribution of agricultural cropland extent and areas of South Asia for the Global Food Security-support Analysis Data (GFSAD) project. A comparison of the results with national statistics shows good correlation.

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The project has helped improve previously published maps by using high-resolution remote sensing data acquired from multiple satellite instruments. GFSAD estimates also show that irrigated land accounted for 400 million hectares.

The project is a collaboration between the United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, University of New Hampshire, California State University Monterey Bay, University of Wisconsin, Northern Arizona University, ICRISAT, US Department of Agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency, Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development and Google.

Dr Prasad Thenkabail, Research Geographer at the USGS, led the development of the GFSAD dataset with funding from the Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) competitive program through NASAs Earth Science Data Systems Program. Dr Murali Krishna Gumma, Cluster Leader-Geospatial and Big Data Sciences, led ICRISAT’s effort.

The GFSAD collection, its algorithms, cropland products and statistics can be freely accessed at