Improving the lending potential of credit providers to small holder farmers in southern Africa through satellite imaging

The challenge

There is currently no tool on the market specifically for credit providers to track crop performance and enable them to actively engage with their investment.

The response

  • The service (named GRID, initially referred to as GroWise) developed through this ESA project will consist of a Crop Growth Index (CGI) for a variety of common African crops. The CGI will be modelled on a crop-specific basis utilising SAR data, optical satellite data and precision weather information. The CGI will provide the credit providers with daily updates of the crop’s growth stage, the biomass of the crop and the Leaf Area Index (LAI). These three measures of growth will allow credit providers to assess how well the crop is performing.
  • Agri-EPI Centre will provide the 1m resolution imagery data for Africa from its Digital Globe collection to compare with other paid-for and free satellite data providers of varying resolution.
  • Jointly with AgSpace, Agri-EPI Centre will assess which resolution is best suited for provision to small-holder farmers in Africa. The results will guide the choice of which sources of satellite data are to be implemented into the development process.


Credit providers will have the ability to monitor their investment and in turn affect the outcome of the yield via the delivery of agronomic knowledge therefore improving their potential return and the prospects of the farmer.

Project type

Feasibility study (ARTES 20 Integrated Applications Promotion Demonstration project)


European Space Agency

Project duration

December 2017 – November 2019

More information

Website European Space Agency:

List of partners

Farmers are now accessing advanced satellites to provide near-live images of fields and crop damage
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