Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Consultation on Open Agricultural Knowledge for Development

22-24 April 2104 Rome, Italy. Consultation on Open Agricultural Knowledge for Development. The G8 countries organized a conference on Open Data in Agriculture, which brought together expert working groups and specialist expertise across aspects of agriculture and related fields including documents, genetic resources, statistics, spatial data etc. In fact, many international and regional organizations are actively supporting a variety of initiatives around the context of open data and knowledge.

One such initiative is the CIARD Movement which was established in 2008, and the partners have developed a set of practical tools including a Check listof good practices, a set of Pathways, and a global registry of open data sources CIARD-RING, and the AIMS global community of practice. The founding partners undertook a review of the Movement in early 2013, and the vision was widened to encompass contributions to agricultural development in general with a focus on small producers. CIARD is currently being rebranded to address this new mandate.

Apart from CIARD, several other initiatives exist around the context of open data and knowledge in agriculture. Amongst these is the global Research Data Alliance has developed an Agriculture Interest Group, which has strong links to CIARD. Leading on from the G8 conference, the GODAN (Global Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition) initiative was launched in October 2013 to build high-level policy and institutional support for open data across the public and private sector.The GODAN partners include many of the same actors that already support CIARD so the two will be highly complementary to each other.

The objectives of the Consultation were:
  • review progress, achievements and future prospects of all international initiatives related to open data and knowledge in agriculture, including especially CIARD and GODAN;
  • consider experiences of selected national systems and international/regional agencies in development of effective policies and practices in opening agricultural knowledge and data;
  • discuss and agree structure and governance for CIARD and GODAN;
  • define a programme of action for the next 2 years in relation to strengthening advocacy, policy frameworks and mandates, and institutional/human capacities.
14/05/2014 SciDev G8 and FAO's open-agriculture projects set to join forces
Some participants expressed fears about merging CIARD into a G8-led initiative that could be less sensitive to the views of developing countries. Others proposed that the secretariat be hosted by a neutral body such as the FAO or global agricultural research partnership CGIAR.
In any case, creating a secretariat should ensure that developing — as well as developed — countries drive GODAN, Kerry Albright, senior agricultural research analyst at the UK government’s Department for International Development and another GODAN organiser, toldSciDev.Net.
The initiative is doing an excellent job in engaging the scientific community, Catherine
Woteki, chief scientist at the US Department of Agriculture. But it is failing to influence senior policymakers and businesses, according to Woteki. “Open data for agriculture is much broader than the scientific data,” she said, adding that there are many other types of data, including information on resources and production held by government agencies or by local institutions. “And the private sector has a crucial role in taking these data sets and creating useful applications.”

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