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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: July 16 2015 »

What does open data mean for agriculture? And why should people care about open data in agriculture and nutrition?

As mobile phones, tablets and improved connectivity spread across the world, the amount of data we are gathering and storing is increasing exponentially. With every satellite launch we add further data at ever increasing detail.   

Knowledge is a core input to agriculture, while data and information are the foundation of knowledge. Is agriculture making the most of the data revolution? 

In this issue of ICTupdate, we try to show it certainly is, although it seems we are yet to make progress in taking advantage of making data open for agriculture. A report by McKinsey in 2013 [1] suggests that open data could benefit the global economy by US$3 trillion a year.   

To cover this revolution, we have had our own revolution here at CTA and have turned this issue of ICTupdate over to our interns for a new perspective. This issue will also be accompanied by more content online. 

Open data and the data revolution 

There are various definitions of open data, including that from OpenDefinition.org: “Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose,” It means data is available, accessible and  can be mixed with other datasets to be made universally accessible to all. By making data truly open, we also have to give context to the data.   

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web and linked data initiator suggests  The Five Star system [2] which provides a more comprehensive, technical definition of open data describing five different levels of openness (on the web*, machine-readable data**, non-proprietary format***, Resource Description Format standards**** and linked RDF*****). However, very few agricultural data services achieve the five-star level of openness. A non-technical definition to the Five Star system was made by the Open Data Institute (ODI).  Dr David Tarrant (ODI) presented the approach at the GODAN workshop (20 January) as the following: available*, reusable**, open format***, use IDs for data - to link to data****, and all of the above and be able to link data to other people’s data to provide context*****.   

The data revolution is a UN post-2015 initiative which refers to the transformative actions needed to respond to the demands of a complex development agenda; improvements in how data are captured and used; building capacity and data literacy in ‘small data’ and big data analytics; modernising systems of data collection; liberating data to promote transparency and accountability; and developing new targets and indicators [3].   

What does open data mean for agriculture?   

In terms of agriculture and open data, we are not talking about strictly agricultural data, such as yields and inputs. Rather, we are including all of the data that could be used to support food security, nutrition and agriculture. This could be satellite and meteorological data or nutritional values of crops.   

Open data can potentially play a role at both macro and micro levels. At the national policy level, for example, we have seen the use of indicators to measure investment in agriculture and resultant growth in yields. Open data can help bring transparency to government spending on agriculture. 

At the farmer level, access to data affects how they are managing their farms: for example, data can help farmers understand more about the threats of drought or to decide what to produce and when to take their produce to market. Farmers can also contribute to data collection and input; What are they planting? When will it be ready for harvest? When will it be ready for the market? The data value chain in agriculture

Having access to better data and better information on yields helps set targets for agricultural production at the policy level, as well as at the farmer level. The challenge is that data needs to be accurate, constantly updated and reliable. The ability to collect this data at different points allows for universal participation.

Why should people care about open data in agriculture and nutrition?   

The agricultural sector is facing a huge demand to feed rapidly growing populations, while at the same time facing increasing threats from climate change. Agricultural production has to increase while reducing its impact on the environment – it cannot be just more fertiliser, more land being ploughed under. Equally important, we need to ensure a fairer distribution of the food produced, which calls for investments in family farming, value chains and markets that enhance food security at all levels.   

Open data can facilitate this. There is an enormous amount of knowledge available from a lot of different sources: the practices of indigenous communities, new technologies developed by research institutions, tacit knowledge, knowledge transferred between generations, policy implementation, the use of products by consumers and so on. Access to these data can help us understand all aspects of food production: soil conditions, land use, the dynamics of the value chain and to identify gaps in data.   

More environmental data are available where we have seen openness increase. For example, satellite imagery can give us an idea of soil moisture levels by analysing infrared reflectance. Open data present fundamental building blocks to help us understand more about the land so we can improve production and/or market access.   

With open data we can intensify the use of knowledge rather than intensify agriculture.
In this issue of ICT4Ag we give a voice to various stakeholders who talk about their ideas on how to face the various challenges, and we present some practical ICT tools in the data revolution for agriculture with potential to scale out.   

We hope you enjoy reading our magazine!


[1] Manyika, J., Chui, M., Farrell, D., Van Kuiken, S., Groves, P., & Almasi Doshi, E. (2013). Open data: Unlocking innovation and performance with liquid information. Report. McKinsey Global Institute.


[2] Tim Berners-Lee. 5 Star (*) Open Data.


[3] United Nations. (2014). What is the ‘data revolution’?


Eva Huet holds a master’s in Forestry, Nature Management and Tropical Agriculture from KU Leuven University, Belgium. She is an intern at CTA in the Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. She has been working on several projects in Latin America and West Africa. For the Belgian Development Agency (BTC), in cooperation with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment (MINAM), she was involved in developing the process of spatial planning at community level in the Andes. Her interests lay in rural development, spatial ordinance and sustainable agriculture with validation of local knowledge. Regarding this, she has experience with mapping land use, managing GIS databases, and analysing agricultural practices. For Eva, open data means that information and research is shared, assuring that it can be used at different levels to develop better agricultural practices and resource management.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/eva-huet/22/b9/189   

E-mail: huet@cta.int / evahuet@hotmail.com

Laureene Reeves Ndagire is a Knowledge Management intern at CTA with a background in organisational behavior, Human Resource, knowledge management and learning. She holds an Msc in Human Resources and Knowledge Management from Lancaster University Management School, UK. Laureene worked in marketing controllership at General Electric, and was a research associate on Ethics and Biometrics for the EU FP7 projects (RISE/BITE),before relocating to the former soviet republic of Georgia to work with the Ministry of Education and Science among internaly displaced persons in the Samegrelo region. She is currently remotely coordinating the Wakulima Young Uganda platform for young farmers in East Africa to build market connections and facilitate knowledge sharing across the region. Coming from a grassroots/community development background, as well as being a family farmer, open data in agriculture for Laureene signifies access to data/information for farmers and knowledge curation from national to local level. This ultimately translates into improved agricultural practices and better yields for farmers. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Reene.Ndagire 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lolafootloose 

LinkedIn:  nl.linkedin.com/pub/laureene-reeves-ndagire/19/599/43b/

E-mail: laureener@yahoo.com 

Personal Blog: https://thesmartfoodfield.wordpress.com/   

Ana Brandusescu holds a master’s in Geography from McGill University and has five years of research experience with geographic visualisation tools, Web 2.0 applications and participatory mapping. She has worked among various communities with a range of technical and non-technical audiences. Ana has led community development and crowdmapping projects (Montreal and Vancouver), communicated with trauma surgeons and researchers (Cape Town) to visualise trauma injuries via mashups, and marginalised communities (Mumbai). Currently, Ana is an intern at CTA for the Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) Programme, promoting participatory spatial information management and communication for empowering grassroots in climate change adaptation, advocacy, and policy processes. Prior to CTA, she has worked for the Web Foundation in collaboration with the World Bank and Omidyar Network on the Open Contracting Data Standard and legislative data specifications for Open North. For Ana, open data should be repurposable for technical and non-technical audiences. Her work with both open and closed (sensitive) data has sparked her interest in the challenges that the data revolution will face and what local and global communities will do to ameliorate them.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anabrandusescu.cta 

Twitter: @anabmap 

LinkedIn: https://nl.linkedin.com/pub/ana-brandusescu/42/618/622 

E-mail: brandusescu@cta.int / anabrandusescu@gmail.com 

Personal Blog: http://www.slideshare.net/anabrandusescu   

Jean Claude Nduwimana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the Adventist University of Central Africa in Rwanda. For his final year project, he created a desktop application for Dream Team Football Academy, which is currently used to register players and generate reports on collected data. He later joined the innovation hub kLab (Knowledge Lab) in Kigali, where he created a children’s mobile application for entertainment and education purposes. He competed in the ICT4Ag hackathon, where his team placed second overall for a mobile application to improve communication between local farmers and policy makers. Jean Claude worked with the “Girinka” project (one cow per family) in Rwanda, to develop a platform that enables follow-up and evaluation of activities from project recipients. He is currently an intern at CTA integrating the ICT4Ag database to curate existing convergence applications to support policy, markets and value chain development. The database will be open access for various stakeholders from farmers to developers and will be available on different channels. Open data for Jean Claude is a primary key resource for the quick development of agriculture and social activities at large.   

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeanclaude.nduwimana.1 

Twitter: @nduwiman 

LinkedIn: nl.linkedin.com/pub/nduwimana-jean-claude/62/34/1a4 

E-mail: nduwimana@cta.int / jeanclaufexnduw@gmail.com 

Personal Blog: http://jeanclaufexnduw.wix.com/noza2013   

Mikaïla Issa is a journalist and communicator in social innovation and ICT for Agriculture from Benin and is an intern with the communications team at CTA. A social media strategist to engage, collaborate and innovate continuously for development, Mikaïla is curious about topics related to ICT and new media for agricultural and rural development. He has strong skills in writing and reporting for print, web and broadcast media, online dissemination of information in both French and English. Mikaïla believes that with the large amount and diversity of digital information available today, open data has the potential to visualise a complex story with clear graphics. Journalists must take advantage of this to better describe data and its effect on ICTs, agriculture, and education, to help make better decisions. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikaila007

Twitter: @mikailaissa

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/journalistmikaila/

E-mail: issa_abramane@cta.int/ mikailaissa@gmail.com

Personal Blog: http://agrimedias4dev.blogspot.nl/   http://mikaila.mondoblog.org/
13 February 2015

source: http://ictupdate.cta.int/layout/set/print/Feature-Articles/Data-Revolution-for-Agriculture

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