Open data for agriculture meeting focuses on global food security

Farm Forum

Later this month, on April 29 and 30th, the G-8 will host an important meeting on Open Data for Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture is organizing the meeting on behalf of the United States for members of the G-8 and interested parties. I bet that doesn’t sound very exciting. Wrong! This meeting can have a major impact on global food security.

The meeting grows directly out of the G-8 Summit hosted by President Obama last year at Camp David and the commitment they made to a new Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. As a part of the Camp David Declaration, the G-8 agreed to “take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities” in Africa.

A fact sheet was issued by White House at the time of the Declaration. In an effort to scale up new technologies, the G-8 agreed to:

· “Launch a Technology Platform with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa and other partners in consultation with the Tropical Agriculture Platform and the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) initiative that will assess the availability of improved technologies for food commodities critical to achieve sustainable yield, resilience, and nutrition impacts, identify current constraints to adoption, and create a roadmap to accelerate adoption of technologies.

· “Launch the Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership, housed at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to strengthen the seed sector and promote the commercialization, distribution and adoption of key technologies improved seed varieties, and other technologies prioritized by the Technology Platform to meet established goals in partner countries.

· “Share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture, to develop options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to African farmers, researchers and policymakers, taking into account existing agricultural data systems.”

The goal of the Open Data for Agriculture meeting, according to USDA “is to get a commitment and action from nations and relevant stakeholders to promote policies and invest in projects that open access to publicly funded global agriculturally relevant data streams, making such data readily accessible to users in Africa and world-wide, and ultimately supporting a sustainable increase in food security in developed and developing countries.”

Secretary Tom Vilsack will lead the U.S. delegation. Under Secretary Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist, said “The G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture will bring together many forward-thinking entrepreneurs and innovators, along with policy makers and thought leaders. There, we will have the opportunity to discuss how open agricultural data increases food security, improves access to research for developing countries and provides new opportunities for private/public partnerships.”

All innovators and private sector partners are invited to participate in the Open Data for Agriculture meeting and to help define the scope of the discussion. Hopefully, the meeting will facilitate the transfer of scientific research and information in a broad range of areas from best agricultural practices, to research, biotechnology, irrigation, extension services and applied technology.

See you on April 29th. It couldn’t be more exciting.