The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.

Completion report Data4Ag

This project is based on a request from the Pan African Farmers Organisation members developed during the succession of continental briefings examining their capacity building needs and policy issues between 2012 and 2016 in the following steps: Using a discussion forum amongst the more than 200 members, they identified a number of successful farmers organisations requiring support for capacity development. A study was then carried out by the ZED group together with a further e-discussion to establish the needs to improve financial management. This identified the need for data to improve access to finance in terms of credit, but also to ensure access to insurance.
At the fourth Continental Briefing, the PAFO identified the need to upport data driven farming within the farmers organisations and the new opportunities offered by different sustainable models like precision agriculture.
To ensure coverage across Africa the Regional Farmers Organisations were approached to propose further cases to ensure activities in each region.
Several services were considered for support during the data4ag project:
Membership registration covering data take-on with mobile phone details so that farmers can update and receive further information through SMS services. The Farmers organisation can view this data through the Web, and download information locally and view dashboards of the information online.
GPS mapping. This involves geolocation of farms and potential boundary mapping.Strategic development advice. Consultancy support to develop membership services can be provided for software development and data ownership agreementsData take-on agents. Financial support to hire short-term agents to assist with initial registration and promotion of services.Preparatory studies on Farmer Profiling Data
To provide a context for the types of data which needed to be collected in the field projects, a study was executed to review how data was being used in services drawing on farmer profiles. This resulted in the CTA working paper 17/09 Farmer profiling: “Making data work for smallholder farmers”. A Data4Ag week was held in The Hague from 20 to 24 November 2018, the outcome of which fed into the study “Digital and Data-Driven Agriculture: Harnessing the Power of Data for Smallholders ”co published with GFAR and GODAN which become a key reference for the key elements in farm data management. This established the definition of four main data types for exchange in farm management.
A number of issues were identified, in this process, as factors restricting farmers from benefiting from data-driven agriculture. From the farmers’ perspectives, there is a distinct lack of awareness of the issues surrounding data, and the complexity of these issues. This fuels the imbalance that exists between individual farmers and larger agribusinesses – wherein the former lack enough resources to address and analyse the significance of data, and so cannot take advantage of the value in it.
There is also limited legislation for the generation, flow, exchange and use of data; where legislation does exist, it is not well understood by farmer organisations. From a policy perspective, moreover, there is very little guidance as to which agricultural data can be considered personal data, and therefore protected by privacy laws. It is also necessary to understand the distinction between the attribution of data ownership, and control over data use.