Unlocking benefits for agriculture with FAIR data


Toolkit by CABI: “The Data Sharing Toolkit contains seven eLearning modules with supporting case studies, checklists, cheat sheets and guides. All the modules help demystify how to use, collect and share Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) and safeguarded data for you, and, for the people in agriculture you wish to empower.

Step 1 Login or sign-up for a free CABI Academy account to get started

Step 2 Start at Module 1 if you are new to data, or simply —

Step 3 Start with whichever module resonates most with your project needs, as you don’t need to do all seven to upskill in FAIR data.

Seven modules with seven guiding questions:

Each question supports best practice for FAIR and safeguarded data in investments in agriculture around the world, in support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grantees and program officers….(More)”.

Smart weather app helps Kenya’s herders brace for drought


Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Sitting under a low tree to escape the blazing Kenyan sun, Kaltuma Milkalkona and two young men hunch intently over the older woman’s smartphone – but they are not transfixed by the latest sports scores or a trending internet meme.

The men instead are looking at a weather alert for their village in the country’s north, sent through an app that uses weather station data to help pastoralists prepare for drought.

The myAnga app on Milkalkona’s phone showed that Merille would continue facing dry weather and that “pasture conditions (were) expected to be very poor with no grass and browse availability.”

One of the young men said he would warn his older brother, who had taken the family’s livestock to another area where there was water and pasture, not to come home yet.

Milkalkona, 42, who lives and sells clothing in the neighbouring town of Laisamis, said she often shared data from her phone with others who did not have smartphones.

“When I get the weather alerts, I usually show the people who are close to me,” she said, as well as calling others in more distant villages.

Extreme and erratic weather linked to a warming climate can be devastating for Kenya’s pastoralists, with prolonged droughts making it difficult to find enough pasture for their animals.

But armed with up-to-date weather information and advice, herders can plan ahead to ensure their livestock make it through the region’s frequent dry spells, said Frankline Agolla, co-founder of Amfratech, a Nairobi-based social enterprise that developed the myAnga app.

The app – its name means “my weather” – goes further than the weather reports anyone can get from the meteorological department by interpreting them and making recommendations to herders on the best way to protect their livelihoods.

“If there is an imminent drought, we advise them to sell their livestock early to reduce their losses,” said Agolla in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation….

The app is part of Amfratech’s Climate Livestock and Markets (CLIMARK) project, which the company aims to roll out to more than 300,000 pastoralists in Kenya over the next five years, with funding and other help from partners including the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation and the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council.

The app sends out weekly weather information in English, Swahili and other languages used in northern Kenya, and users can see forecasts for areas as small as a single village, Agolla said….(More)”.

Optimizing Digital Data Sharing in Agriculture


Report by Mercy Corps: “In our digital age, data is increasingly recognized as a powerful tool across all sectors, including agriculture. Historically, data on rural farmers was extremely limited and unreliable; the advent of new digital technologies has allowed more reliable data sources to emerge, from satellites to telecom to the Internet of Things. Private companies—including fintech and agricultural technology innovators—are increasingly utilizing these new data sources to learn more about farmers and to structure new services to meet their needs.

In order to make efficient use of this emerging data, many actors are exploring data-sharing partnerships that combine the power of multiple datasets to create greater impact for smallholder farmers. In a new Learning Brief looking at AgriFin engagements with 14 partners across four different countries, we found that 25% of engagements featured a strong data-sharing component. These engagements spanned various use cases, including credit scoring, targeted training, and open access to information.

Drawing on this broad experience, our research looks at what we’ve learned about data sharing to enhance service delivery for smallholder farmers. We have distilled these lessons into common barriers faced by data-sharing arrangements in order to provide practical guidance and tools for overcoming these barriers to the broader ecosystem of actors involved in optimizing data sharing for agriculture….(More) (Access the full length learning brief)”.

Code of Conduct Constructor


Tool developed by GODAN: “Codes of conduct, voluntary guidelines and sets of principles around how to transparently govern farm data are a recent thing. While laws and regulations that govern personal data are becoming more and more common, legislation still does not cover data flows in many industries where different actors in the value chain need to share data while protecting all involved from the risks of data sharing. Data in these value chains is currently governed through private data contracts and licensing agreements, which are normally very complex and over which data producers have very little negotiating power.

Codes of conduct have started to emerge to fill the legislative void, setting common standards for data sharing contracts. Codes provide principles that the signatories agree to apply in their contracts. Farm data is an example of such sensitive data flows. Farm data flows go from the farm through many other actors (extensionists/ advisory service providers/ ag tech companies, farmers’ associations, financial service providers, government…), before returning – aggregated and combined and in the form of services – back to the farm. Such flows potentially open up sensitive data that should only be shared with specific actors under specific conditions, or should be anonymised in order to avoid harming the farmer’s interests and privacy. This is especially true in the case of smallholder farmers, whose farm data often coincides with household data and personal data, and who are in the weakest position to negotiate their data rights.

This online tool, therefore, also has another important practical purpose: providing the conceptual basis for general, scalable guidelines for everyone dealing with the production, ownership, sharing and use of data in agriculture….(More)”.

Curating citizen engagement: Food solutions for future generations


EIT Food: “The Curating Citizen Engagement project will revolutionise our way of solving grand societal challenges by creating a platform for massive public involvement and knowledge generation, specifically targeting food-related issues. …Through a university course developed by partners representing different aspects of the food ecosystem (from sensory perception to nutrition to food policy), we will educate the next generation of students to be able to engage and involve the public in tackling food-related societal challenges. The students will learn iterative prototyping skills in order to create museum installations with built-in data collection points, that will engage the public and assist in shaping future food solutions. Thus, citizens are not only provided with knowledge on food related topics, but are empowered and encouraged to actively use it, leading to more trust in the food sector in general….(More)”.

Smart Rural: The Open Data Gap


Paper by Johanna Walker et al: “The smart city paradigm has underpinned a great deal of thevuse and production of open data for the benefit of policymakers and citizens. This paper posits that this further enhances the existing urban rural divide. It investigates the availability and use of rural open data along two parameters: pertaining to rural populations, and to key parts of the rural economy (agriculture, fisheries and forestry). It explores the relationship between key statistics of national / rural economies and rural open data; and the use and users of rural open data where it is available. It finds that although countries with more rural populations are not necessarily earlier in their Open Data Maturity journey, there is still a lack of institutionalisation of open data in rural areas; that there is an apparent gap between the importance of agriculture to a country’s GDP and the amount of agricultural data published openly; and lastly, that the smart
city paradigm cannot simply be transferred to the rural setting. It suggests instead the adoption of the emerging ‘smart region’ paradigm as that most likely to support the specific data needs of rural areas….(More)”.

Africa has a growing food security problem: why it can’t be fixed without proper data


Simon Roberts and Jason Bell at the Conversation: “The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown measures have had a huge negative impact on producers and consumers. Food production has been disrupted, and incomes have been lost. But a far more devastating welfare consequence of the pandemic could be reduced access to food.

A potential rise in food insecurity is a key policy point for many countries. The World Economic Forum has stated this pandemic is set to “radically exacerbate food insecurity in Africa”. This, and other supplier shocks, such as locust swarms in East Africa, have made many African economies more dependent on externally sourced food.

As the pandemic continues to spread, the continued functioning of regional and national food supply chains is vital to avoid a food security crisis in countries dependent on agriculture. This is true in terms of both nutrition and livelihoods. Many countries in Southern and East African economies are in this situation.

The integration of regional economies is one vehicle for alleviating pervasive food security issues. But regional integration can’t be achieved without the appropriate support for investment in production, infrastructure and capabilities.

And, crucially, there must be more accurate and timely information about food markets. Data on food prices are crucial for political and economic stability. Yet they are not easily accessible.

study by the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development highlights how poor and inconsistent pricing data severely affects the quality of any assessment of agricultural markets in the Southern and East African region….(More)”

Ethical and Legal Aspects of Open Data Affecting Farmers


Report by Foteini Zampati et al: “Open Data offers a great potential for innovations from which the agricultural sector can benefit decisively due to a wide range of possibilities for further use. However, there are many inter-linked issues in the whole data value chain that affect the ability of farmers, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to access, use and harness the benefits of data and data-driven technologies.

There are technical challenges and ethical and legal challenges as well. Of all these challenges, the ethical and legal aspects related to accessing and using data by the farmers and sharing farmers’ data have been less explored.

We aimed to identify gaps and highlight the often-complex legal issues related to open data in the areas of law (e.g. data ownership, data rights) policies, codes of conduct, data protection, intellectual property rights, licensing contracts and personal privacy.

This report is an output of the Kampala INSPIRE Hackathon 2020. The Hackathon addressed key topics identified by the IST-Africa 2020 conference, such as: Agriculture, environmental sustainability, collaborative open innovation, and ICT-enabled entrepreneurship.

The goal of the event was to continue to build on the efforts of the 2019 Nairobi INSPIRE Hackathon, further strengthening relationships between various EU projects and African communities. It was a successful event, with more than 200 participants representing 26 African countries. The INSPIRE Hackathons are not a competition, rather the main focus is building relationships, making rapid developments, and collecting ideas for future research and innovation….(More)”.

The Food Systems Dashboard


About: “The Food Systems Dashboard combines data from multiple sources to give users a complete view of food systems. Users can compare components of food systems across countries and regions. They can also identify and prioritize ways to sustainably improve diets and nutrition in their food systems.

Dashboards are useful tools that help users visualize and understand key information for complex systems. Users can track progress to see if policies or other interventions are working at a country or regional level

In recent years, the public health and nutrition communities have used dashboards to track the progress of health goals and interventions, including the Sustainable Development Goals. To our knowledge, this is the first dashboard that collects country-level data across all components of the food system.

The Dashboard contains over 150 indicators that measure components, drivers, and outcomes of food systems at the country level. As new indicators and data become available, the Dashboard will be updated. Most data used for the Dashboard is open source and available to download directly from the website. Data is pooled from FAO, Euromonitor International, World Bank, and other global and regional data sources….(More)”.

Citizen participation in food systems policy making: A case study of a citizens’ assembly


Paper by Bob Doherty et al: “In this article, we offer a contribution to the emerging debate on the role of citizen participation in food system policy making. A key driver is a recognition that solutions to complex challenges in the food system need the active participation of citizens to drive positive change. To achieve this, it is crucial to give citizens the agency in processes of designing policy interventions. This requires authentic and reflective engagement with citizens who are affected by collective decisions. One such participatory approach is citizen assemblies, which have been used to deliberate a number of key issues, including climate change by the UK Parliament’s House of Commons (House of Commons., 2019). Here, we have undertaken analysis of a citizen food assembly organized in the City of York (United Kingdom). This assembly was a way of hearing about a range of local food initiatives in Yorkshire, whose aim is to both relocalise food supply and production, and tackle food waste.

These innovative community-based business models, known as ‘food hubs’, are increasing the diversity of food supply, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Among other things, the assembly found that the process of design and sortation of the assembly is aided by the involvement of local stakeholders in the planning of the assembly. It also identified the potential for public procurement at the city level, to drive a more sustainable sourcing of food provision in the region. Furthermore, this citizen assembly has resulted in a galvanizing of individual agency with participants proactively seeking opportunities to create prosocial and environmental change in the food system….(More)”.