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Championing open data for agriculture and nutrition

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Nutrition

At a Ministerial Conference on Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition and the 4th Agritec Africa exhibition, held 14-16 June in Nairobi, Kenya, key regional stakeholders met to discuss ways of leveraging data and science to improve food and nutrition security.

As a result of Kenya's commitment to champion the use of open data for agriculture and nutrition at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit in 2016, a Ministerial conference with a theme of harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in food and nutrition data, was recently held in June. The meeting was co-hosted by the Government of Kenya and GODAN.

Core discussion areas focused on issues relating to the use of statistics in the agricultural sector, with a key concern being the inaccessibility of data and how this impacts on the capacity of countries to cope with food-related emergencies. "We suffer from low investment in agriculture statistics and capacity, this is further compounded by a lack of coordination within the national data ecosystem," says Dr Zacharay Mwangi, director general at Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. In order to scale-up the potential of agriculture to provide jobs and opportunities for employment, the sector requires accurate, accessible and usable data. However, the use of data for decision-making and action for agricultural growth remains elusive. "Creating a culture of usage of data for evidence-based decision-making, and empowering the people, especially on matters of food and nutrition, is...a rational developmental choice," says Willy Bett, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

Four themes – data coordination, agricultural productivity, improving capacity and financing for smallholders – were covered through a series of specialist sessions. The conference programme also included high-level panels on concrete proposals and actions by the government to catalyse agricultural transformation, such as:

  • Harnessing the potential of youth through open data for economic growth and prosperity
  • Strengthening resilience and food security for agricultural communities
  • South-south dialogue: How data is enabling innovations in agricultural value-chains
  • Capacity building for evidence-based decision making in the global south

Around 400 participants from a cross-section of private and public sectors attended the conference, and from fields as diverse as farming, education, remote sensing and government. The conference also succeeded in attracting a number of agricultural ministers from Gambia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and deputy ministers from Ghana and Sierra Leone. This group of ministers established an African intergovernmental network for open data for agriculture and nutrition and confirmed that its next annual meeting would be held in Uganda.

CTA co-organised one session as part of the conference: capacity building for evidence-based decision making in the global south. CTA is also reviewing the production of conference proceedings and documentary development with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and event organisers.

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