The renewed worldwide interest in agriculture and in issues relating to food crises in different parts of the world has highlighted the need for providing quality information to actors in rural development. Much attention has been focused internationally on how digital information and communication technologies (ICT) can improve access to technical data and knowledge in all sectors including agriculture. This drive has been reflected in the Post-2015 Development Agenda called for a “data revolution” for sustainable development, with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to citizens.
The G8 countries organized a conference on “Open Data in Agriculture”, which brought together expert working groups and specialist expertise across aspects of agriculture and related fields including documents, genetic resources, statistics, spatial data etc. In fact, many international and regional organizations are actively supporting a variety of initiatives around the context of open data and knowledge.
One such initiative is the CIARD Movement which was established in 2008, and the partners have developed a set of practical tools including a “Checklist” of good practices, a set of “Pathways”, and a global registry of open data sources “CIARD-RING”, and the AIMS global community of practice. The founding partners undertook a review of the Movement in early 2013, and the vision was widened to encompass contributions to agricultural development in general with a focus on small producers. CIARD is currently being rebranded to address this new mandate.
Apart from CIARD, several other initiatives exist around the context of open data and knowledge in agriculture. Amongst these is the global Research Data Alliance has developed an “Agriculture Interest Group”, which has strong links to CIARD. Leading on from the G8 conference, the GODAN (Global Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition) initiative was launched in October 2013 to build high-level policy and institutional support for open data across the public and private sector. The GODAN partners include many of the same actors that already support CIARD so the two will be highly complementary to each other.