FAO in North America

GFAR Spearheads Open Source Agriculture Data

Submitted by Amy McMillen on April 10, 2014

Open source agriculture data program will help to increase value of data. (Internet Concept of a Global System and Business (Shutterstock))

This article is shared with permission from FoodTank.org.

by Steven Gnatovich

In an effort to make agricultural research more widely available, The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) officially launched the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) platform in October of 2013. The GODAN program, born from the 2012 G8 conference, “Open Data in Agriculture,” is designed to make agricultural data open, shared and available. According to Kerry Albright, Senior Agricultural Research Analyst at the U.K. Department for International Development and a leader on the project, “we have a vision of a data revolution for the agriculture and nutrition sectors, fueled by openness and believe that open data can help combat food insecurity today while laying the groundwork for a sustainable agricultural system to feed a population that is projected to be more than nine billion by 2050.”

The 27 members of the United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on post-2015 development goals agree, a data revolution is needed. Proponents of open data argue that the lack of “institutional, national, and international policies and openness of data limits the effectiveness of agricultural and nutritional data from research and innovation.” Simply, if research data is not available for use, then the data is not adding actionable value.

GODAN receives support from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), GFAR and other members of the Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) movement. According to the CIARD, “the GODAN partners include many of the same actors that already support CIARD so the two will be highly complementary to each other.” GFAR similarly sees the marriage of institutional support with open data expertise as mutually beneficial: “The GODAN initiative brings valuable support to GFAR and CIARD in their actions to bring open access to agricultural data and information, with its focus on building high-level policy and public and private institutional support for open data.”

On April 22-24, 2014, GODAN project members will meet at the FAO headquarters in Rome to review GODAN progress, develop effective policies and detail their two-year project plan.

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) brings together all those working to strengthen and transform agricultural research for development around the world. During 2014 and the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), GFAR is working with Food Tank to showcase and raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.

Steven Gnatovich received his B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago in the Spring of 2011, majoring in Political Science and International Studies. After spending two years doing market research in Chicago, he elected to pursue a year of creative writing. In doing so, he discovered a passion for the written word. His passion for food and food systems is motivated by his personal commitment to local solutions.

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