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Leading the data revolution

Analysis

Digitalisation

Data4Ag is all about making sure farmers have access to data and information which can help them to improve their productivity and incomes. There are three key elements to the Data4Ag component of CTA’s ICT4Ag portfolio: promoting technologies and knowledge, improving the way data is used and presented, and leading the global dialogue on ICT4Ag. The MUIIS project is an outstanding example of CTA’s work to promote a bundle of ICT services. Meanwhile CTA’s partnership with an organisation in Samoa, provides a good example of how CTA is using data to help farmers improve their incomes.

And then there is leadership. CTA has taken a prominent role in guiding the global discourse on Data4Ag through its support for the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) project, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Launched in 2016, GODAN supports the proactive sharing of data so that information about agriculture and nutrition is freely available, accessible and usable. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to improve food security.

By the end of 2017, approximately 25% of GODAN’s 630 members came from ACP countries. “The growth in membership, particularly from Africa, has benefited from CTA support,” says Chris Addison, CTA’s Senior Programme Coordinator for Data4Ag. “Since GODAN was launched, we’ve done our best to ensure that ACP participants are included in meetings and, in particular, that there is strong representation from Africa.”

CTA is responsible for managing the capacity development element of the GODAN action project. “We have taken a blended approach, which involves face-to-face training sessions, as well as webinars and a Massive Open Online Course [MOOC],” says Addison. To give an example of the former, in July 2017, Chipo Msengezi, CTA’s Project Coordinator for ICTs, ran a training seminar during the Open Data for Africa week, which was held in Accra, Ghana. The workshop was specifically designed for GODAN trainers, and around 16 participants were able to test materials produced for the MOOC curriculum run by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Two hundred people were enrolled on the MOOC, with over 400 benefiting from monthly open data webinars managed by CTA by the end of 2017.

CTA also played a key role in many open data meetings and events. In February 2017, over 150 participants attended a meeting on creating impact with Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition. This was co-organised by CTA, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GODAN and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International. To coincide with Open Data Day on 4th March 2017, CTA launched an edition of ICT Update covering the event and presented a new video on the subject.

In June, CTA supported the Ministerial Conference on Agriculture and Nutrition Data, which culminated in the creation of a new African Intergovernmental Ministerial Network for Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition, involving 15 nations in the Nairobi Declaration. Over 400 people registered for the conference, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition, around 6,000 people attended the Agritech exhibition associated with the conference.

In August, CTA launched a network of GODAN trainers. “We hope that this will lead to the spread of knowledge and skills to ensure that open data is used to solve agricultural and nutritional challenges – and, in this way, we hope to ensure the future sustainability of GODAN activities,” says Msengezi. By the end of 2017, the network included 75 members.

In 2018, a larger Data4Ag project will begin involving Agricord and the Pan-African Farmers Organisation in capacity building across four African regions.

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