Digital Belt and Road Program Opens Centre of Excellence in Africa, Eyeing Regional Agriculture and


The Digital Belt and Road Program opened an international Centre of Excellence (ICoE) in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia on June 25, 2018 to promote cooperation between DBAR and African countries in using big Earth data for regional agriculture and food security.  

The center plans to build a monitoring system for agriculture and food security in southern Africa, with an aim to benefit UN sustainable development goals in this region.  

The system is technically supported by CropWatch, China’s leading crop monitoring system. CropWatch is developed by a research team with the Aerospace Information Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, using remote sensing and ground-based indicators to assess national and global crop production. The monitoring results will be quarterly released in the form of bulletin in both Chinese and English.  

Prof. GUO Huadong, Chair of DBAR, said during the opening ceremony that the southern Africa has complex geographical environments and diverse ecosystems, and faces many challenges in terms of food security, climate change, and natural disasters. Thereby, accurate and timely scientific data is urgently needed to support the sustainable development in this region.  

He held that the establishment of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka will effectively promote involvement of scientists and stakeholders in Southern African countries, jointly conducting research and practice on using Earth's big data to improve the agricultural and food security and disaster response. 

The establishment of ICoE-Lusaka is lauded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Mr. Ahmed Shukri, an FAO official noted at the ceremony that many efforts of DBAR are closely related to the FAO's strategic objectives in the region. He said that FAO is always ready to work with all parties to promote the development of the ICoE-Lusaka, and the application of research results. 

The DBAR program was launched in 2016 by CAS scientists, in cooperation with experits from more than 20 countries and international organizations to promote global sharing of expertise, knowledge, technologies and data through Earth observation and big Earth data from satellites and other sources.