Layered information on a grid cell

Many of HarvestChoice spatial datasets are organized and released on 10-km grids. To make spatial analyses easier for researchers (even without having access to GIS platform), we put data layers from multiple themes together in one denormalized big table. This post describes the methodology and presents a prototype.

Starting with the Spatial Production Allocation Model (SPAM), many HarvestChoice data products are organized at 5 arc-minute (also known as 10 km) grids. We often align the grids with other additional layers and aggregate them in different ways. For example, by overlaying market accessibility and crop growing areas or livestock population, we assess the proportion of crop and/or livestock production in the  high (or low) market access zones. Much of these spatial analyses are being done in GIS, but also can be quickly done through simple database operations. 

As a by-product of recent exercise that overlaid agricultural production, agro-ecological characteristics, and market accessibility on the rural population in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), we created a simple table that lists about 300K grid cells (i.e., tiles) in SSA with related attributes, including: 

Nothing in this list of variables is new - yet we found it useful to put all the variables in one place and quickly summarize/aggregate different dimensions of characteristics; we thought that it is ideal material for the Blog! This table can be also used for multiple purposes creatively. Please suggest any significant yet missing variables - we'll try to add them for next release. 


What's Next

  • Add/update crop production and area values to 2005
  • Add suitability of crop production
  • Market accessibility (travel time) for other town population classes (20K, 100K, 250K, and 500K)
  • Update population to 2005
  • ...? (Feel free to make suggestions!)


HarvestChoice, 2010. "DataTile v0.1." International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC., and University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Available online at

Sep 17, 2010