GODAN: 'Agriculture data must be accessible for farmers at the local level'

With the 2016 Open Data Awards just around the corner, we catch up with the team at GODAN, one of Social Impact Award finalists, on how they encourage data on agriculture and nutrition to be more accessible and usable worldwide

The Open Data Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in open data across the world. Hundreds of inspiring people and organisations have been nominated. The awards will be held on 1 November 2016 at the BFI Southbank. Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #OpenDataAwards for updates on the night.


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What do you do, in a nutshell?

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) network brings together global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible and usable for unrestricted use worldwide. Our partnership network focuses on building high-level policy, and public and private institutional support for open data.

We have the ability to create tangible change by building foundations of trust amongst stakeholders. GODAN champions equal access to knowledge, which is necessary for food security, sustainable agricultural practices and global economic growth.

What first got you excited about open data?

It was a growing realisation that open data was more than a tool to promote accountability and transparency, that it could be used to create new products and services to meet the big challenges in the sector. These range from reducing food waste to insuring cattle against loss in drought to knowing when to plant crops. The list goes on and on.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

Dealing with a diverse network is a huge challenge. We have to be sensitive to an enormous range of needs and wants. Agricultural data comes from an incredibly varied set of sources and perspectives. We aim to tackle existing data inequalities to make real progress – working to see that open data's potential is realised for as many people as possible.

What kind of open data would you like to see more of?

Whatever our network tells us they need. For farmers in much of the world it can be as simple as better local weather data or what pests are likely to be a risk down the road. A smallholder needs to know what crops to grow, how to grow them, what fertilisers or pest-control methods to use and how to get them, where to store the harvest, and where to sell it and at what price.

Getting that data at a local level and in a meaningful format and language can be a real challenge.

What are you most looking forward to about the ODI Summit and Awards?

Networking, catching up with friends and maybe seeing what’s around the corner.

The awards will be held on 1 November 2016 at the BFI Southbank. Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #OpenDataAwards for updates on the night.