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Identification of smallholder oil palm plantations

Sensonomic identified smallholder palm oil plantations from satellite imagery with a 93% accuracy, and then conducted an analysis to identify which of the smallholders were investible.

Challenge

Our client wanted to validate their assumptions on the potential availability of organically grown palm oil from smallholder plantations in Ghana. They had an approximation, developed from local knowledge, but wanted to accurately identify the number of smallholder plantations and identify which farms to onboard to their supply chain first.

Solution

Sensonomic developed object identification algorithms to analyse high resolution satellite imagery and detect areas of palm oil plantation. Then, once we had identified where the smallholder plantations were located, we built an investment criteria model with the client, and collected the necessary data to evaluate more than 10,000 smallholder farms. This enabled them to rank and organise the investment potential of each of the outgrowers through a simple discriminatory filtering mechanism based on farm size. With this, the client was able to filter out the uninvestable ones, and prioritise which farms to onboard to their supply chain first.

Results

Our supervised algorithms identified more than 4,500 oil palm plantations over a 4,000 km2 area, and proved more accurate than on-the ground GPS-tracking, with an identification accuracy of >93%.

This remote, automated survey revealed that our client had access to more than double their best estimates of smallholder plantations. The client was then able to build a business case with an increased potential annual revenue of minimum $5 million for at least 15 years.

The client said:

“Sensonomic’s analysis provided significant value to our business, and created a basis for assessment of which smallholders should be onboarded first. Thus, Sensonomic’s services are valuable both at a strategic and at an operational level.

We recommend Sensonomic’s services to anyone looking to unlock the potential value of smallholder agriculture.”

This analysis was a one-off, but with the achieved accuracy level we would be able to provide monitoring services on a more regular basis, either monthly or yearly. Get in touch if you would like us to assess your outgrower supply chain. 

Palm trees are seen from above, growing in diagonal rows, with the odd deciduous tree in between

Question

How many organic smallholder oil palm growers are there in the client’s focus region of Ghana, and how much palm oil can our client expect to source from them?