A roundtable session on open data in agriculture was recently held during recent Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) 2015, held in Abu Dhabi. The roundtable session, convened by the CGIAR, looked at the current open data situation in the agricultural sector, future aspirations, as well as key challenges. The panel brought together stakeholders from across the sector including participants from CCAFS, ILRI, CTA, Pan African Farmers’ Organisation (PAFO), Africa Rice, CIMMYT, GFAR and CABI.
A key challenge in this sector is how to translate open access data into useful information for agricultural research donors and other players in the value chain. Many donors are now insisting on open access for work that they sponsor.
The session discussed how open data should make it easier for African farmers to access to financing, which is a current challenge. The information such as crop performance will provide assurance to banks and other lenders.
Chris Addison, Senior Programme Coordinator, Knowledge Management at CTA said, “In our work with mobile applications for smallholder farmers we see the open data sets from satellite observations improving information at farm level, despite limitations to resolution. We see the use of historical market data available from local and international open data sets and the use of open datasets to produce infographics to attract investment in farming.”
There is a growing need for capacity building to keep (all communities up to date on digital technologies/trends). Open access data needs to be reliable in order for it to benefit farmers and others in the value chain.
“Having better market information would help farmers to decide what to plant and where best to sell it. That’s why open data is so extremely important. It must enable me as a farmer to make a decision here and now. It’s a tool to assist me to make the right decision, on the right day, in the right place,” said Theo de Jager, President of the Pan African Farmers’ Organisation (PAFO).