Smallholder farmers produce over 80% of the world’s food but are often poor and food-insecure themselves (FAO, 2014). Food insecurity is linked to a host of diet-related health outcomes, including the so-called “double burden” of deficient and excessive caloric intake.
Pretty, et al., found that food production improvements in the Global South came not from increasing cereal productivity, but from farm intensification or incorporating home gardens, rice paddies, and crop mixing. These frequent practices do not always register on land use surveys and may have nutritional or economic impact of unknown significance. This project will use Google Street View imagery to inventory which innovative, intense practices are being used on smallholder farms allowing for further research between farming practices and diet-related health outcomes in the surrounding communities.
Our project intends to develop a reliable new mechanism by combining publicly available Google Street View imagery with conventional satellite and aerial imagery to produce a fine-grained inventory of commercial and subsistence farming which would register current innovative, intense practices on smallholder farms. An inventory with unprecedented detail will allow research into the relationships among farming practices and diet-related health outcomes in the surrounding communities.
We believe a high-resolution inventory of commercial and domestic agriculture that does not rely for its integrity on farmer reporting and governmental record-keeping will be a treasure trove for researchers interested in the impact of the spatial arrangement of agricultural activities on food accessibility and security. This work will be piloted in Thailand because (i) Food accessibility at a household level in some provinces is a problem especially in isolated rural areas, despite there being a food surplus at the national level (Isvilanonda, 2011). Nationally, 40% of the population works in agriculture-related jobs, and 87% of the agricultural households were affected by food poverty as of 2007 (Luedi, 2016). (ii) There is good coverage in Street View. (iii) We have a team member and a consultant with extensive relevant local and agricultural knowledge.
John Ringland with GLASS research students December 2018 L to R: Matt Straub, Matt Eichhorn, Niranjan Ravichandra, and Nick Lahue