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Summary of Discussions: Week 1 of the e-Forum on ICTs and Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition

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The first week of our e-forum discussion on ICTs and Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition generated many insightful contributions. The discussion explored the crossroads between ICTs and issues around Open Data in agriculture and nutrition.


The question for week 1 was:

What role can ICTs play in using Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition for farmers, especially small holder family farmers, rural women and youth engaged in agricultural livelihoods?

Summary of contributions

Participants looked carefully at the different steps that are necessary to collect quality data, make them accessible and available in re-usable formats and free for everyone and how to make data available in a way that is useful and user-friendly for the end users, the farmers.

For each step of this process the use or development of appropriate ICT tools is crucial. Participants also pointed out how important it is to move away from the focus on farmers as users or “consumers” of Open Data, towards helping them to become active participants in the creation, exchange and transformation of Open Data within larger systems or value networks. Smart farming was proposed to be a good candidate to succeed in improving food production in developing countries through the integration of ICTs and making use of Open Data.

In reply to the question for the first week “what role can ICTs play in using Open Data in agriculture and nutrition for farmers?” we can take away the following points:

  • ICTs can be used for Data collection: data have to be acquired at the point of origin, which is the individual farm. Digital technologies such as applications are very powerful for this task
  • ICTs can be used to structure data collection more and better
  • ICTs can democratize information and ensure timely availability of important information
  • ICT can support the capacity building of extension agents, trainers and famers on Open Data

The following difficulties where brought forward in the discussion:

  • little capacity and training in data driven agriculture at all levels,
  • lack of awareness,
  • cost of data acquisition,
  • cost of generating pertinent information,
  • cost of dissemination of information and,
  • the quality of data.

Several recommendations were made and examples of the use of ICTs and Open Data were shared and will be bundled towardd the end of our forum.

To wrap up this week’s discussion find some snippets from the discussion below. We hope you will join us for the second part of the discussion in the 2nd week!


Some participants quotes

“There is no Open Data without ICTs. That is because on of the two defining characteristics of Open Data, machine readability is an ICT concept.” - Amparo Ballivian (World Bank)

"Data acquisition in agriculture is expensive, and because of this is mainly undertaken by governments, universities, NGO's, etc. and mostly with different purposes in mind. So most data gathered by this actors is not very useful at the farm level" - Albert J Brewer (Venezuela)

"Data acquisition is the first step in the whole data management and exploitation process and in this context, it should be carefully designed and implemented in all data-powered applications"- Vassilis Protonotarious (Greece)

Generating data is not an issue anymore. The problem is to generate postitive change beyond access to data themselves. Too often institutions (from both the public and the private sector) think that releasing data publicly constitutes an achievement per se – though it is rather a building block for progress" -Simone Sala (FAO)

If we want to enhance models and improve the quality of the tools we need to pool the data as smart as possible, this is a crucial question for science and society” - Ben Schaap (GODAN)

Join the second week discussion - What case studies demonstrate the benefits and/or damages of the use of ICTs and Open Data? 

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