News Excerpt
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Hand-in-Hand geospatial platform with a large and rich set of data on food, agriculture, socioeconomics, and natural resources to strengthen evidence-based decision-making in food and agriculture sectors.

•    Hand-in-Hand is an evidence-based, country-led and country-owned initiative of the FAO to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development to eradicate poverty (SDG1) and, end hunger and all forms of malnutrition (SDG2). In doing so, it contributes to the attainment of other Sustainable Development Goals.
•    It prioritizes countries where national capacities and international support are most limited or where operational challenges, including natural- or man-made crises, are greatest. This is in line with the UN’s priority commitment to “leave no one behind.”
•    It uses the most sophisticated tools available, including advanced geo-spatial modelling and analytics, to identify the biggest opportunities to raise the incomes and reduce the inequities and vulnerabilities of the rural populations.
•    It adopts a market-oriented foodsystems approach to increase the quantity, quality, diversity and accessibility of nutritious foods available in local, regional and national food markets and to improve food system capacities to deliver nutrition and healthy diets for everyone.

About the Platform
    The platform is a crucial tool for all efforts to build back better and create more resilient food systems post COVID-19.
    It boosts over one million geospatial layers and thousands of statistics series with over 4,000 metadata records, bringing together geographic information and statistical data on over ten domains linked to food and agriculture - from food security, crops, soil, land, water, climate, fisheries, livestock to forestry. It also includes information on COVID-19's impact on food and agriculture.
    Geospatial technologies and agricultural data represent an opportunity to find new ways of reducing hunger and poverty through more accessible and integrated data-driven solutions.
    The platform can be used by anyone and its application will in turn help data-driven and evidence-based decision-making in food and agriculture.

Platform provides vital information to
    Monitor agricultural water productivity, including agricultural systems at risk due to human pressure on land and water.
    Compare human population density to distribution of cattle or compare density between two livestock species around the world.
    Ascertain aquatic species distribution.
    Analyse precipitation trends.
    Analyse information from national forest monitoring systems that show distribution of forest resources with other geospatial data such as the road network. This allows the separation of undisturbed forest areas that have high conservation value from accessible areas that are more suitable for restoration or production.
    Allow us to design more targeted agricultural interventions and investment plans through territorial approach - an approach that fosters equality, inclusion and sustainable food and nutrition security.

What is Geospatial Technology?
    It is an emerging field of study that includes Geographic Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS) and Global Positioning System (GPS).
    It enables us to acquire data that is referenced to the earth and use it for analysis, modelling, simulations and visualization.
    It allows us to make informed decisions based on the importance and priority of resources most of which are limited in nature.
    It may be used to create intelligent maps and models that may be interactively queried to get the desired results in a STEM application or may be used to advocate social investigations and policy-based research.
    It may be used to reveal spatial patterns that are embedded in large volumes of data that may not be accessed collectively or mapped otherwise.
    It has become an essential part of everyday life. It’s used to track everything from personal fitness to transportation to changes on the surface of the earth.

Does India use Geospatial Technology?
     India’s geospatial market has been growing remarkably. All levels of government, i.e. national, state and local, need data for governance. Geospatial data and aided applications are helping departments across sectors with the same. Many government departments in India use a variety of geospatial  technologies  like GIS,  Remote Sensing, LIDAR, GNSS, Surveying and Mapping, etc.
     The use of geospatial  map  data  and  applications  is  spread across a wide variety of areas, including legislative and policy development,  allocation and management of natural resources, defence & public safety purposes,  spatial planning and informed decision which are being arrived at throughout sectors  of  importance  to  economy.
     All flagship programmes, be it Smart  Cities,  Skill  Development, Digital India, Start‐up India, Make in India, the Clean Ganga Project, or  the  push  to  infrastructure,  industrial  development,  energy,  and  smart  agriculture,  have substantial geospatial components.
     As of now, geospatial technology has made inroads into various sectors both in the public and private domains in India. The major sectors using this technology are agriculture, telecommunications, oil &  gas,  environmental  management,  forestry,  public safety, infrastructure, and logistics. As the utility and cost effectiveness of this technology is being realised, the geospatial industry is on a healthy growth path.