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Abstract

Various institutions wanting to invest in agricultural production or the agribusiness sector in the SADC region need information on the quality and location of agricultural resources. Generating agricultural resource information on a regional level provides the challenge of integrating vast amounts of information from the various countries, implying storing, retrieving and manipulating it to determine areas best suited to grow a particular crop; or various crops that can be grown in a particular area. A Geographical Information System (GIS) has been developed as part of a broader project to assess the agricultural potential of SADC countries from a physical-biological-climatological point of view. Crop suitability maps obtained from the GIS containing information on resource quality, combined with transport modelling to add information on transport cost, can be used by private sector institutions for location decisions and the public sector for planning the provision of physical and social infrastructure. Incorporating resource data of the whole region implies that the available data on the climate, topography and soils of most of the SADC countries is coarse which only allows analyses on a national and regional level.

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