Cellphone and internet boom in Africa!

The adoption of new Information and Communicatons Technology (ICT) at the macro and micro levels in Africa and elsewhere is closely linked to socioeconomic growth and development (Obijofor, 2009).  To…

Amazing maize…

The post analyses current trends of maize yield and production, and tries to look ahead and see where changes are likely in the future. It is related to a previous…

African geomatics centres

Many African countries have established and operate dedicated institutions dealing with remote sensing, mapping, GIS and other geomatics applications such as GPS and monitoring and warning programs. In addition, at…

The three rules of crop yield forecasting

(First published: 20140727 / Last Updated: 20141018) When they have been in a business long enough, “experts” often develop a gusto for the more philosophical side of their trade, and crop forecasters…

Serious

African geomatics centres

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Many African countries have established and operate dedicated institutions dealing with remote sensing, mapping, GIS, GPS, warning systems and other geomatics applications. In addition, at the initiative of groups of countries, regional development associations such as CILSS and SADC, the Africa Union, UNECA (UN Economic Commision for Africa) and NEPAD…

Cellphone and internet boom in Africa!

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The adoption of new Information and Communicatons Technology (ICT) at the macro and micro levels in Africa and elsewhere is closely linked to socioeconomic growth and development (Obijofor, 2009).  To a large extent, the rapid – phenomenal  (Nyaki Adeya, 2001) – penetration of modern communication technology in Africa can be…

Amazing maize…

maizecolorful

The post analyses current trends of maize yield and production, and tries to look ahead and see where changes are likely in the future. It is related to a previous post on Global food supply trends in 2014, and beyond!  This note was first published in the August 2014 CropWatch bulletin,…

The three rules of crop yield forecasting

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When they have been in a business long enough, “experts” often develop a gusto for the more philosophical side of their trade, and crop forecasters are no exception. Strictly speaking, the philosophical aspects are not needed to build a forecasting method. They are, nevertheless, very useful to avoid naive errors that can result from applying technical…

Global food supply trends in 2014, and beyond!

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This post analyses the trends of yield, area, and production in the 31 countries that together make up 80 percent of the world supply of maize, rice, wheat, and soybean. These 31 countries (actually 30 + 1, where 1 stands for China) which are the key focus of CropWatch analyses,…

Crop monitoring dialects

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There are many national and a handful of international crop monitoring and forecasting systems. All maintain websites and publish bulletins, which summarise their analyses for decision makers at the national level and beyond. A collection of national bulletins is available from the WAMIS website of WMO, as well as from…

The return of the overbite

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By Anna-Giulia, Eric, Jacques and Wergosum [First published on 20130217; updated 20130328] The idea for this note started with an email from Eric, where he expressed his surprise, and his disagreement, with a post in  The Atlantic about How Forks Gave Us Overbites and Pots Saved the Toothless: “They say…

Mixing time series and cross-sectional data

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As I was updating a couple of things in another corner of this blog,  I stumbled upon of  a passage in a recent book by Nate Silver (2012) that has a lot of relevance for crop forecasters. It is relevant to two different but related subjects: (1) averaging different forecasts…

Forecast and even planned: the Vajont dam disaster

The post on the risky business of forecasting is updated every time something happens with the trial of the scientists who failed to predict the L’Aquila earthquake. The trial reminded me of another story that happened in Italy: the Vajont disaster. In this case, the forecast was perfect (and far more certain…

The risky business of forecasting

Forecasting the future is a difficult task, as there are many more ways to be wrong than right! In addition, a forecast is not just a statement about what might happen, it is also embedded in a context that may be as relevant as the forecast itself when it comes…

What, if anything, happened during the Neolithic?

There is probably a lot of truth to this statement... Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/beer-facts-trivia_n_3016246.html

First published 20121020 / Last updated 20121028 Bread is one of the most typical products of agriculture, and, somehow, bread is agriculture. Like many other people, I assumed that bread is a neolithic invention. In reality, “bread” and other innovations, appeared gradually over time, and well before the Neolithic. All…

God(s) explained, somehow!

(Published 20100908 / Last updated 20121019) — As a student, I read  an article by Rappaport (The sacred in human evolution, 1971) which impressed me a lot. While  maintaining a latent interest in the subject, I have never really given it much thought since the seventies, beyond holding the opinion…

Civilisation-ending volcanic winter (note 1)

First published 20120718 /  last updated on 20120924 Is climate change the worst nightmare scenario for our future? We know it is there to stay, and experts tell us daily about what we are to expect (note 2). Nevertheless,  the science of impacts is a very uncertain business, because it…

The cost of hunger and malnutrition

Malnutrition remains the world’s most serious health problem and the single biggest contributor to child mortality. Nearly one-third of children in the developing world are either underweight or stunted, and more than 30 percent of the developing world’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies (WB 2006, introduction.) Needless to say, many…

Naming the invisible

Published 20091223/Last updated 20131218 with the quote from Stefan Zweig under “additional information.” … as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.    —SHAKESPEARE, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, V.i.14–17  (taken from Johnson’s Where…

Projects that will (perhaps) save the planet

(Published 20100212 / Last updated 20111207) There are basically three types of BIG problems facing the earth and, ultimately, the survival of man as a dominant species. The majority (1) has to do with the use and the misuse of natural resources, such as oil and water. (2) Then we…

News from the future

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Version française, cliquez ici. After “The risky business of forecasting“, which focused on  natural disasters, here is a note that looks more closely at the broader picture of our societies. It reviews different articles that have recently shown some skill in forcasting the future. The first comprises of simple power…

Mountain climate(s)

This note about mountain climate is an updated and expanded version of an earlier text I wrote for the website of FAO many years ago (July 2002). Since then, I have left FAO for JRC and I have actually started working on climate related risk issues in a rather mountainous…

Are all EC and UN languages really needed

While writing the “fun” post below on Eurobabel, I collected some data on the actual use of European languages. Here is thus a more serious note about the importance of EU languages compared with UN languages, and their cultural weight compared with some reputedly “insignificant” languages such as Esperanto and…

Mixing oil, water and food in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20110922 In reaction to the first oil crisis of the mid seventies, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to decrease its dependency on food imports by developing local food production using water from deep, non-renewable aquifers. This has now been going on for about thirty years now, and the…

La famine de 1845 en Irlande

Cette famine me fascine depuis longtemps. J’ai écrit ce petit texte il y a quelques années, et j’ai rassemblé pas mal de documentation sur le sujet. Disons que cette ébauche me servira d’amorce quand je parviendrai à me décider! Cette famine offre un exemple classique de pénurie complexe: les facteurs…

Climate-crop impacts: some data issues

1. Introduction (*) Crop-climate interactions are of relevance for a number of applications, in food security, crop insurance, market planning and climate change impact assessments. All these fields have an interest in crop modelling and forecasting. The interest of forecasting goes beyond the immediate subjects discussed here, as all science…

How difficult it is to be a climatologist…

Just  before COP-15 took place in Copenhagen in December 2009, unknow people broke into the computers of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and stole email correspondence of Prof. Jones, a major figure in the IPCC.  The issue received wide media coverage and was eventually…

Einstein on crises

Below is a text by Einstein, which I got somewhere on the web. I like it because I have always considered that crises are opportunities to change directions. As Le Chatelier had observed, chemical systems tend to resist changes. While we are certainly complex chemical systems, humans are no exception:…

Fun

Eurobabel

This post is about the use of languages in the European Commision (EC) and the  European Union (EU). There are at present twenty-two languages, which are designated in the EC…