GIC and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Geospatial Unit under the Land and Water Division held an online training course from 11-15 October 2021 to introduce land management professionals to Agro-ecological Zoning (AEZ).

The training course, titled An Introduction to AgroEcological Zoning: A Framework for Agricultural Development and Land Use Planning, was attended by nearly 100 participants from 22 countries.

AEZ is a land evaluation framework used to predict the potential of land based on its attributes including land suitability and limiting factors related to climate, soil, and terrain. To address these varied topics, a diverse assortment of instructional sessions was devised for the training program by the FAO and GIC teams. Sessions
focused on data requirements for AEZ, Global AEZ Methodology, LULC concepts, hands-on analysis of climate data, crop modeling, crop parameters, water balance on soil and crop water stress, yield, limiting factors, soil, topography, interpretation of crop summary table, and AEZ country applications.

The AEZ methodology was developed by FAO in the late 1970’s as a way to evaluate land at the continental scale. The process defined agro-ecological zones based on similar soil and climate characteristics which conveyed agricultural production potential. Over time the AEZ development team expanded to the global scale with the release of a Global AEZ product at the turn of the millennium. The latest iteration, GAEZ 4.0, debuted in June 2021 as the most interactive version yet.

GAEZ 4.0 takes advantage of modern web-GIS technology to give users the experience of visualizing land management data on a web platform. The sessions for this training course can be accessed at GIC’s Youtube page.