Farmer in field

CABI’s approach to increasing data access was featured at the ODI Summit 2022: Data Decade; an event which set out to address the data challenges in the years ahead.

Dr Negussie Efa Gurmessa from CABI spoke about how the Open Data Institute’s (ODI) Data Spectrum was applied in the agriculture sector in Ethiopia. The data spectrum helped to visualise where the different data sets are currently sitting (close, shared, open) and how to improve sharing – a shift from closed to shared and open.

More importantly, it helped to develop a common understanding and language among relevant partners about data sharing. A resource, entitled ‘Agriculture Data Spectrum: Guide’ was also shared at the summit, this was produced by CABI and the ODI funded by The Gates Foundation investment.

Dr Negussie Efa Gurmessa said, “If farmers are to grow healthier and more profitable crops and lose less to pests and diseases, they need access to decision support tool.

“Likewise, policy makers need to have access to the right information and evidence to formulate relevant and impactful policies. Getting agricultural data to the point where it can be shared is a big challenge that we need to address immediately.”

The Gates Foundation sees data and digital information systems as being critical to increase food security and enhance the impact of investments. When the Foundation wanted to explore increased access to data on soil health, agronomy and fertilizers detail in India and Ethiopia, they turned to CABI.

This is due to the combination of highly skilled technical experts and the fact that CABI does not come with pre-conceived ideas about what the solution to increased data sharing should be.

The grant supported CABI to encourage and enable governments, universities, research and non-governmental organizations in the India and Ethiopia to see the benefits and apply best practices regarding the sharing of data which, ultimately, will help farmers grow healthier and profitable crops and lose less to pests and diseases.

Initial work found that in Ethiopia a lot of data exists among individual researchers and various institutions but that this data was not shared, used and re-used. These problems often resulted in the duplication of effort and waste of resources.

Dr Negussie Efa Gurmessa added, “We initiated and implemented interventions to help Ethiopia, national partners and funders address the problem of data sharing. As part of this we conducted data ecosystem mapping to better understand the landscape and where we could make the most difference.”

A key part of the work was engagement of key national partners, co-creation and delivery of tools, processes (policy, guidelines, frameworks, templates) and recommendations. One of the notable outputs was the co-created Soil and Agronomy Data Sharing Policy, and its implementation guidelines.

CABI also worked with ODI to develop a Data Sharing Toolkit. This was originally designed to support Gates Foundation programme officers and their grantees, with the necessary skills to develop better grants that will foster more access to agricultural data. But the resource can be used by anyone keen to make their data more readily available to solve the challenges faced by farmers globally.

Speaking alongside Negussie, were Gavin Starks, Founder and CEO of Icebreaker One, Haden Sutherland, Founder, Open Transport Initiative, Ravi Shankar, GIS Head, WHO GIS Centre for Health in the Data, Analytics and Impact for Delivery Unit and Sema Gornall, CEO and Founder, The Vavengers.


Additional information

Main image: A farmer checks his maize crop for pests (Credit: CABI).

Find out more about CABI’s expertise in Managing Knowledge including its experience of scientific research, publishing, knowledge management and communications putting know-how into the hands of the people who need it most.

Learn how CABI, through the Plantwise programme including the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, helps provide key information to extension workers and farmers to help the latter grow healthier and profitable crops and lose less to pests and diseases.

The very latest policy documents, technical reports and how-to-guides relating to promoting FAIR data can be found on the Gates Open Research platform.

Other relevant news story

See also the news story ‘CABI wins grant to help boost food security in India and Ethiopia through opening access to data.’