Land suitability analysis for agriculture in the Abbay basin using remote sensing, GIS and AHP techniques

Yalew, Seleshi G.; Griensven, Ann van; Mul, Marlous L.; Zaag, Pieter van der


To meet growing population demands for food and other agricultural commodities, agricultural land-use intensification and extensification seems to be increasing in the Abbay (Upper Blue Nile) basin in Ethiopia. However, the amount, location and degree of suitability of the basin for agriculture seem not well studied and/or documented. From global data sources, literature review and field investigation, a number of agricultural land suitability evaluation criteria were identified. These criteria were pre-processed as raster layers on a GIS platform and weights of criteria raster layers in determining suitability were computed using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). A weighted overlay analysis method was used to compute categories of highly suitable, moderately suitable, marginally suitable and unsuitable lands for agriculture in the basin. It was found out that 53.8 % of the basin’s land coverage was highly suitable for agriculture and 23.2 % was moderately suitable. The marginally suitable and the unsuitable lands were at 11 and 12 % respectively. From the analysis, regions of the basin with high suitability as well as those with higher susceptibility for land degradation and soil erosion were identified.