Cost efficiency, sustainable and viable rural economy, and supportive governance are main impacts of open data in agriculture and nutrition

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Cost efficiency, sustainable and viable rural economy, and supportive governance are main impacts of open data in agriculture and nutrition

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26 november 2015

The Government of the Netherlands, Ministry of Economic Affairs hosted the 2nd International Workshop ‘Creating Impact with Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition,’ which was well attended by about 70 representatives from government, private sector, research institutions and non-governmental organizations from mainly Europe and Africa. Following the highly successful first workshop in January of this year, the Ministry organised the second international workshop jointly with the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative (GODAN) and Wageningen University and Research.

Open data offers great opportunities for informed and transparent decision making and for developing a data driven economy. There is a growing awareness of the potential impacts of this global trend and in January 2015 the participants in the 1st workshop ‘Creating Impact with Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition’ jointly produced a rich picture of the many on-going and upcoming initiatives and activities in this field. Although the workshop was very successful in showcasing the many relevant tools, datasets, networks, and initiatives, it also resulted in the conclusion that additional action was needed to clearly outline the pathways to impact of these tools, data sets, networks and initiatives and to use these insights in developing more general views on the role of open data in achieving impact.

At the 2nd International Workshop, the participants worked intensively together in sessions unpacking the impacts of open data, supporting business innovation, and the priorities needed for action in the coming period for the broader community of open data in agriculture and nutrition. The conclusions from the working sessions highlighted that impacts are be best viewed from the different points of view afforded to those in government, private sector, and civil society. For governments, the most desirable impacts lead to increased innovation in society, and governments are keen to see where they have played a demonstrable role in making this happen. For the private sector, open data is a way to operate in a more cost-efficient manner, either by reducing internal transaction cost of working with data or by improving decision making based on data. For civil society, impacts can take many forms, and mainly depend on the specific context in which open data has the opportunity to play a significant role; notably impacts are seen to arise from promoting a sustainable living environment for citizens and a viable rural economy.

Participants also keenly discussed the roads to achieve these impacts from a range of other perspectives: technology; best practices & organizational issues; and business innovation. There are very promising technological developments , which can be deployed in the sector for example, remote sensing, drones, semantic interoperability and data sharing agreements. Participants thought that these technologies are ready to be deployed, but in many cases require a thorough assessment to understand their market readiness. With respect to business innovations, participants proposed development of an innovation matrix of promising applications, either by applying existing solutions to new clients, or by developing more solutions for existing clients for open data. Such solutions need to be specifically scoped for open data in agriculture and nutrition. From the perspective of best practices and organization, an assessment is needed of the current capabilities within the community and development paths of organizations in order to enhance their learning capacity and deal with (open) data in agriculture and nutrition. The need for more data scientists strongly emerged across discussions in the different working sessions.

The workshop closed with partners giving a series of commitments. Derek Scuffell from Syngenta announced an effort to scope the data ecosystem ahead of the GODAN Summit 2016 in September next year, through development of a discussion paper led by Syngenta and GODAN. Malick Tapsoba from Burkina Faso Open data Initiative announced a workshop on 7 & 8 of December in Burkina Faso on impact of open data for agriculture and water. Finally, Francois van Schalkwyk of the World Wide Web Foundation announced an effort to open data on so called ‘wet mills’ for coffee and their locations to enable more efficiency in the value chain. The workshop was closed by Andre Laperriere, Executive Director of the GODAN Secretariat and Drs Ineke Lemmen from the Ministry of Economic Affairs; they concluded that the workshop had brought together a rich understanding of the next steps on the way to impact with open data in agriculture and nutrition, providing many relevant steps for the community. A full workshop report and the presentations will be available shortly online.