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close this bookCERES No. 058 (FAO Ceres, 1977, 50 p.)
close this folderWorld report
View the documentTime for a little order on the commodity markets
View the documentThe new IMF facility: an oxygen mask
View the documentBiogas plants
View the documentThe club of the friends of the Sahel
View the documentA return to traditional cropping
View the documentRADAM discovers an unknown world
View the documentDevelopment aid: UNCTAD is trying to sort it out
View the documentReversal of a historical trend: more young farmers in the United States

RADAM discovers an unknown world

The extraordinary potential of remote-sensing techniques is increasingly being taken advantage of by a number of developing countries. And it can be predicted that the constant improvement of scanning and radar technology will produce such a powerful extension of' the human "senses" that space is likely to become indispensable to future development.

So far, the most spectacular results are being achieved in South America, notably Brazil, where the national space agency, the Instituto de Pesquisas Espacias (INPE), has been engaged in research for more than 10 years, combining "transferred" technology and native ingenuity to provide unprecedented tools for rational, large-scale development.

Brazil has a ground station that receives information directly from Landsat (formerly ERTS) every 18th day, when the satellite passes over the country. Within a few years, INPE has launched programmes of' crop forecasting, detecting shifting fishing areas, mineral and geological research, as well as monitoring of development activities {such as deforestation) that may have significant ecological impact.

Particularly impressive results have already -come from the RADAM (for Radar Amazon) project that uses airborne radar, whose reflected signal is recorded on film. The technique is used to explore the world's largest wilderness area, covering 5 million km². How little this area is known has been illustrated by the discovery of a ma/or tributary of the Amazon {a river several hundreds of kilometres in length), and the relocation of mountain ranges. The RADAM project has also identified fertile soil and rare earths, deposits of tin, iron, bauxite and other minerals.

The RADAM programme is coordinated with a ground effort, for the exploration by boat and helicopter-borne crews of selected sites for assessment of' agricultural and mineral potential More than 5 000 sites have thus been visited, and the data gathered have been translated into interpretive maps (soils, vegetation, agricultural potential, proposed land use, geology and geomorphology J.

It is estimated that at least 2 percent of the huge Amazon basin has good soil and one 100 000 km² area has been identified as having fertile soil suitable for intensive agriculture.

Brazil is the only developing country with a Landsat ground station, but other South American countries have started programmes based on data received from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Bolivia, for example, has identified large deposits of potassium and lithium, and Chile has prepared hydrologic maps used to assess water availability in arid regions.

Remote-sensing technology is rapidly improving. Techniques are being developed, for instance, to superpose satellite scanner images and airborne radar images, so as to combine information provided by each of these techniques. Computer programmes are being designed to correct errors resulting from geometric distortion, the scattering effect of earth's atmosphere and poor contrast. Laser films are used to produce more accurate images, and future satellites will have still better ground resolution.

Natural resources, and their rational use, are a key to the development Of many countries. Remote sensing is a tool capable of providing heretofore inaccessible information about both.

· Water management

The International Training Centre for Water Resource Planning has been created in France with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme. ITCWRP is open to the international community to ensure the theoretical and practical training of future water resource planners and administrators. Courses will be given to groups limited to 30 trainees, and will last two to three weeks. Several consecutive courses, covering different areas of water resource planning and management, can be followed, under the direction of international specialists. The basic working language is French, but English translation will be provided, and courses in other languages can be organized.

The Centre also aims to become a meeting place for working groups on water management, and may in the future organize regional conferences in other countries. It is financed by the French Government and UNEP Grants can be made to cover living costs and travelling expenses to the Centre, located near the airport of Nice in the south of France.

ITCWRP, Sophia Antipolis, Boite Postale No 13, 06560 Valbonne, France.

· A new Asian centre

An Asian centre for the development and transfer of technology is about to be established in Bangalore, in the heart of India. Meeting at the end of February in Bangkok, the representatives of the member countries of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) stipulated the functions of the new centre, whose creation had been decided in the spring of 1975. Its objective will be to strengthen national capacities in the development of indigenous technology and to adapt imported technology to local needs.

More specifically, the Bangalore centre will be expected to identify, select and evaluate the technology appropriate to national needs as well as the capabilities and the resource endowments of the countries of the regions. To facilitate the acquisition of new technology, the centre will furnish engineering and consultancy services.

The information collected will then be disseminated throughout the region. This centre should become the focal point of a vast network of national institutions concerned with the development and transfer of technology. It will not, therefore, substitute, but rather will supplement national efforts of Asian countries toward self-reliance in the field of technology.

Several countries have already announced their intent to participate in the financing of the new centre. France pledged a sum of $20 000, Sri Lanka $2 500. Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and the U. S. S. R. have announced they would also support the centre. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) pledged financial support to a maximum of $100 000 for 1977.

ESCAP was requested to conclude "with immediate effect" an agreement with India for the establishment of the centre. The participants at the Bangkok meeting urged the start of activities without delay. The first item on the work programme: to compile a list of national institutions that will be part of the network.