Knowledge and Learning

Featured items

Fuelling the Data Revolution in Agriculture

Open data and agribusiness development are set to go hand in hand as information management transforms the sector

June 13, 2016

CTA is launching a series of commissioned expert analyses on emerging issues that influence agricultural and rural development – CTA Discussion Papers. The first in the series offers an in-depth look at the many ways that data analysis is set to empower small-scale farmers and emerging economies.

Data Revolution for Agriculture puts forward a powerful case for the adoption of inexpensive and readily available open data systems as a tool to drive improvements across the agriculture sector.

The data revolution is driven by an exponential increase in the volume and types of data becoming available. This growth is fuelling innovations across the globe for the whole agricultural value chain. But more importantly, it is creating opportunities for the sector that are not limited to large, powerful corporations.

A key factor that will ultimately determine the effectiveness of open data is the need to use correct open data standards and for datasets to be made legally and technically reusable. But innovative interventions for a specific group can also create issues around privacy, information rights, and cyber security.

Delivering benefits

Information is the key to improving food security and nutrition in developing regions. Two areas where the increased availability of open agricultural datasets is ready to make an impact are climate change and population growth, and the impact these are having on agriculture.

Effective use of information and data systems in agriculture will also deliver better productivity. This has the obvious effect of improving incomes for farmers. Small-scale operators in particular could have more secure futures, social elevation and a way out of poverty in whole regions.

CTA Director, Michael Hailu, points out the potential value of well-used open data: "Current estimates of the economic potential of open data range from hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars per year".

Putting data to work for farmers

But this added value is reliant on good policy and infrastructure. Michael Hailu adds: "If we are to take advantage of this digital revolution to work towards a more sustainable and inclusive world, developing countries must invest more in digital infrastructure and promote policies directed towards universal access that can benefit rural communities".

CTA teamed up with the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative, the Pan African Farmers' Organization (PAFO) and Wageningen UR to produce Data Revolution for Agriculture. Its main objective is to demonstrate the impact and use of open data for agriculture by showcasing applications, specific trends, approaches and case studies, as well as pointing out the implementation challenges.

It also demonstrates how important it is to adopt an inclusive process when developing open data initiatives, so as to promote the full engagement of local communities and the creation of new businesses for a broad range of stakeholders.

Download Data Revolution for Agriculture. CTA, GODAN and PAFO, 2016. Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Find out more

Download CTA's working papers on open data

Stay connected