Publishing Details

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Authored by:
You, Liangzhi; Wood, Stanley; Wood-Sichra, Ulrike
Publication Date: 
February, 2009
Journal Title: 
Agricultural Systems
Journal Volume: 
Journal Issue: 
Page Range: 


Large gaps exist in our knowledge of the current geographic distribution and spatial patterns of performance of crops, and these gaps are unlikely to be filled. In addition, even the spatial scale of many sub-national statistical reporting units remains too coarse to capture patterns of spatial heterogeneity in crop production and performance that are likely important from a policy and investment planning perspective. To fill these spatial data gaps we have developed and applied a meso-scale model for the spatial disaggregation of crop production. Using a cross-entropy approach, our model makes plausible pixel-scale assessments of the spatial distribution of crop production within geopolitical units (e.g. countries or sub-national provinces and districts). The pixel-scale allocations are performed through the compilation and judicious fusion of relevant spatially-explicit data, including: production statistics, land use data, satellite imagery, biophysical crop “suitability” assessments, population density, and distance to urban centers, as wells as any prior knowledge about the spatial distribution of individual crops. The development, application and validation of a prior version of the model in Brazil strongly suggested that our spatial allocation approach shows considerable promise. This paper describes efforts to generate crop distribution maps for Sub-Saharan Africa for the year 2000 using this approach. Apart from the empirical challenge of applying the approach across many countries, the application includes three significant model improvements: (1) the ability to cope with production data sources that provided different degrees of spatial disaggregation for different crops within a single country; (2) the inclusion of a digital map of irrigation intensity as a new input layer; and (3) increased disaggregation of rainfed production systems. Applying the modified spatial allocation model we generated 5 min (approximately 10 km) resolution grid maps for the following 20 major crops across Sub-Saharan Africa: barley, dry beans, cassava, cocoa, coffee, cotton, cow peas, groundnuts, maize, millet, oil palm, plantain, potato, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugar cane, sweet potato, wheat, and yam. The approach provides plausible results but also highlights the need for much more reliable input data for the region, especially with regard to sub-national production statistics and satellite-based estimates of cropland extent and intensity.


You, Liangzhi; Wood, Stanley; Wood-Sichra, Ulrike (2009) "Generating Plausible Crop Distribution Maps for Sub-Saharan Africa Using a Spatially Disagreggated Data Fusion and Optimization Approach," Agricultural Systems, vol. 99, 2-3.

Additional Attributes

Primary Contact: Liangzhi You
Geographic Coverage: West Africa, East & Central Africa, Southern Africa
Keywords: Africa, Agricultural Production, Crop Production, Crop Suitability, Cross Entropy, Estimation Theory, Maps, Satellite Images, Spatial Allocation, Sub-Saharan Africa