On June 8th, during the Nutrition for Growth event in London, the United Kingdom and United States governments announced plans to launch the Global Open Data Initiative for Agriculture and Nutrition. This, in turn, built on the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture conference in late April, where I witnessed a successful coming together of innovators sharing new ways to make agriculturally-relevant data accessible to users around the world. That goal is gaining momentum, and I am pleased to see a global initiative being formed on this critical issue because we must work together to achieve a “data revolution” for agriculture.
But it will only be successful if others come forward to join us, and I hope others will join us as we use data as another tool to help produce and feed people with safe, nutritious food.
This initiative is a great opportunity for governments, along with public and private entities including donors, international organizations and businesses, to join the effort to expand open data in agriculture. Together, we can use the results of our research to spur agricultural innovation and increase economic growth around the world.
By joining the initiative, we have the potential to accelerate the applications of available data. Imagine what we might achieve when this data can drive better investments and policies, as well as farmers’ decisions, particularly in nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
In 2012, I listened intently to the G-8 discussions emphasizing the importance of opening up access to data to produce enough safe, nutritious food in a sustainable way. Right now, there’s a significant amount of data that’s simply not accessible for use. And where data is available, it’s rarely in a form that enables analysis or comparison.
The participants I met at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data in Agriculture showed possible solutions, but also highlighted a number of potential obstacles. This initiative hopes to address those obstacles by:
- Supporting the development of methods to best coordinate the efforts;
- Building partnerships with public and private sector and developing countries for effective data collection, storage, sharing and use;
- Supporting innovative ways to deliver data to all stakeholders;
- Analyzing the use and impact of data.
I hope you’ll join us in shaping the initiative charter we plan to launch at the Open Government Partnership Conference in London in October 2013. If you’d like to join, I urge you to visit: https://sites.google.com/site/agnutritionopendata/