CABI is to lead an assessment of data management and FAIR data principles in research conducted by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) with a view to considering the barriers to data utility in its investment portfolio.

The six-month project will see CABI engaging with ACIAR Research Programme Managers to better understand and document data management and sharing challenges across a range of geographical areas and domains where it operates to also see how it can improve its grantmaking processes.

The work will help ACIAR conduct case studies for improved data utility in countries where this is likely to have greatest impact across the agency’s portfolio – specifically those within regions of the Indo-Pacific, Southern Asia and Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa.

CABI already has extensive experience in supporting organisations seeking to ensure agricultural data adheres to FAIR principles – in that it must be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable – and can be monitored to assess the success of newly created data ecosystems.

Most recently, CABI was awarded a contract from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with them to help address known constraints to data utility in agriculture development investments. It will do this by increasing the capacity and capability of the foundation, its grantees and the community to manage the move towards FAIR data standards and responsible data sharing and use.

Martin Parr, CABI’s Director of Data Policy and Practice, said, “ACIAR has for nearly 40 years invested in a large portfolio of research, aimed towards improving food systems and farmer livelihoods.

“In order to ensure successful implementation of projects, and deliver maximum return on investment, ACIAR, regional implementing partners, and local institutions must be able to collect high quality data, feel comfortable sharing that data, and reuse others’ data to make better data-driven decisions.”

CABI will engage with ACIAR’s Research Programme Managers and the organisation’s partners during 2022 by conducting a range of desk studies and analyses, interviews, surveys, partner engagement events and facilitated workshops.

Specific deliverables will include identifying and documenting the regional technical, cultural and institutional barriers and the necessary infrastructure, training and capacity development needs before a sustainable, actionable and fit-for-purpose regional roadmap is produced.

The project will conclude with financial reporting and lessons learnt as well as a vision and recommendations for next steps on how best to overcome barriers within the scope of the ACIAR grantmaking practices.

James Quilty, ACIAR’s Research Program Manager for Soil & Land Management explained, “ACIAR supports and encourages good data management practice in research with the aim of ensuring the full value and benefit of data can be realised within and beyond the projects in which it is generated.

“Wherever possible ACIAR aims to ensure that data is publicly available, used and reused responsibly and ethically, and that good practice continues sustainably throughout and beyond the lifetime of a project.

“We believe our collaboration with CABI will go a long way towards ACIAR realising these aims and objectives which are ultimately for the betterment of the smallholder farmers around the world whom we work with to help improve their yields and livelihoods.”

Additional information

Main image: Researchers in Papua New Guinea inspect the base of a canarium tree as part of ACIAR supported research to enhance private sector-led development of the country’s Galip nut industry (Image: ACIAR/Conor Ashleigh).

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See also the news stories ‘CABI to help overcome constraints to FAIR and responsible data use’ and ‘CABI wins grant to help boost food security in India and Ethiopia through opening access to data.’

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