Big data for Small holder agriculture as a variety challenge

Analysing a large number of different data sources used in the CommonSense project for patterns and new insights.

Objective: This proposal sets out to investigate how BIG data can be used to support informed decision making by actors in the small holder value chain focusing on the smart use of BIG data and the Variety challenge.

This research will set out from examples from the Common Sense project and will place the them in the BIG data frame.

CommonSense is a PPP that aims to improve the livelihood of more than 200.000 smallholder farmers in Ethiopia by supporting actors in the small holder agro value chain with timely, accurate and targeted information services on agro-ecological conditions, agricultural production and production risks.

The project fuses large data sets from different nature based on Earth Observation, Weather prediction models, agro ecological models, Geo datasets, statistics, field data and expert knowledge to develop this information.

The challenge is to integrate these large datasets in a meaningfull way despite their differences in nature, resolution, uncertainties and completeness and to analyse and present these data in a smart and meaning full way for the end user.

The CommonSense project now is largely focused on the realization of impact in a development setting as asked for by the donor. To realize this impact the project needs to cross fertilize between scientific domains, integrating IT, agricultural, social economic concepts, while building an international and intercultural public private alliance bridging between a western and a developing country, and doing boundary work in the new development paradigm of the Dutch government marrying aid with trade.

Financial support from the BIG Data theme therefore allows the project to elucidate the different BIG Data elements in CommonSense, focussing on the Variety theme and smart use and to demonstrate the principles and (potential) impact of BIG Data on the small holder value chain to a wider audience, including the WUR and the international (science) arena.

We propose, as a contribution to the BIG data theme, to describe the main methodologies used in CommonSense in an Alterra report and use this as a basis to publish a scientific article in a peer reviewed journal. We would also like to organise a workshop on the BIG data for small holders/agriculture theme and use this as an opportunity to disseminate the lessons learned and to enhance our own BIG data capacity.