Think big, start small, harvesting the low-hanging fruit

Think big, start small, harvesting the low-hanging fruit

An open data infrastructure for agriculture can be developed with different levels of ambition. As an end goal a government may want to share as much as possible of the key datasets. A practical way to take the first steps is to benefit from data sharing needs within the government by sharing open data.

For example, many official records are already collected and shared within and also outside the government in a structured way. These lists of organisations, people or products that are officially registered, permitted or restricted can easily be made available online in a machine-readable format with limited effort. The new way of data sharing saves effort and costs because all information is accessible in an efficient way.

Another opportunity may be to publish data that is shared at international level in relation to international agreements. For example, members of the African Union are fostering the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) as Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all. Members are reporting indicators in Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) as a means of monitoring and a measure of success. Also, National Agricultural Investment Plans are being monitored while being implemented. Currently, indicator data (e.g. agricultural added value, yield size, fertilizer use, etc) are only available at the most aggregated level, the national level. However, the original monitoring data provides a much more detailed picture of economic and agricultural development, indicating differences between regions and municipalities. By publishing this as open data, stakeholders in the agricultural sector can anticipate these differences to make the function of the value chain and associated services more efficient. Also NGOs, donors and governments could use this data to refine their rural development programmes, accelerating the development process.

A third opportunity is to align the development of the agricultural data infrastructure with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators. Similarly to the previous example, the monitoring data needed to evaluate SDG2 is beneficial for the decision making of different actors in the agricultural sector. In particular, the data is not only available in an aggregated form, but published also at the finest possible grain, taking into account privacy and other responsible data issues. The Open Data Charter Resource Centre provides a resource for the development of an SDG2 monitoring roadmap.

Government in action 10: CartEau-BF: Sharing data – optimizing resources

Screenshot of interactive map of water pumps throughout Burkina Faso from the CartEau website.

For a Sahel country, like Burkina Faso, knowing where there is access to water is crucial to determine the potential for crop production, especially in the dry season. To collect all information on the available water sources, workshops have been organised by government with all stakeholders in the country working in water and sanitation. Ministries, agencies, NGOs, companies and other actors were invited to share their data in an open database and in this way a cost-effective resource was obtained that could be used by all actors.

Policy area: Government Efficiency
Key data category: Hydrological data
Location: Africa