GODAN announces agriculture and nutrition open data challenge with $21,000 prize pot

Ahead of its summit in September, the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition network is looking for practical, data-driven solutions for specific challenges in agriculture and nutrition

By Briony Phillips, GODAN Associate

As part of the ODI’s focus on agriculture and nutrition, we’re keen to support opportunities to promote data’s benefits in the sector.

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition network (GODAN) has recently announced an open data challenge, calling for products and services, and policy interventions to improve the use and availability of open data to help overcome challenges of hunger, food security and nutrition.

Six successful teams could win a trip to New York for the GODAN Summit 2016 and up to an $8,000 cash prize.

There are two tracks to the challenge:

  • The first (Track A) invites participants (primarily academics, researchers and open data experts) to propose policy improvements at country or organisation level to enable better open data release and use.

  • The second challenge (Track B) encourages students and young entrepreneurs to use open data to create products and services that respond to one of five specific challenge questions, ranging from tracking our own nutrition to growing more protein.

GODAN shaped these questions based on partner experiences on the ground – whether in Burkina Faso or in Kenya, in Colombia or North America. GODAN partner organisations include government, international and private sector organisations, who focus on making data relevant to agriculture and nutrition more available, accessible and usable.

What kinds of open data innovations exist already in agriculture and nutrition?

Successful innovations usually start by focusing on a specific problem, before finding relevant data that can help inform products or services that would help to solve it. Some great initiatives in this area are already gaining pace, which could serve as inspiration for those keen to work on their own solution.

  • GroenMonitor offers a vegetation map of the Netherlands, which has been derived from satellite mapping. This makes pest outbreaks easier to identify and mitigate.

  • AWhere combines weather observations, forecast models and historical records, and downscales them to field level to help farmers and policymakers forecast and plan.

  • MobiElectro draws on open data from FAO Land and Water, CCAFS to provide a water monitoring system that tells the farmer when to water crops.

  • Plantwise helps smallholder farmers in developing countries deal with plant health issues. It aims to increase food security and improve rural livelihoods by reducing crop losses from pests and diseases.

More diverse examples of data innovation in agriculture and nutrition from around the world were featured in a report that the ODI produced in partnership with GODAN in 2015.

And what about policy innovations?

It can be difficult to identify specific open data innovations in policy as they are often designed and agreed behind closed doors. However, there are certain challenges that GODAN partner organisations highlighted in interviews with the GODAN team earlier this year, which can help inform policymaking.

  • Open data is misunderstood and poorly used:

    • Datasets are not clearly licensed

    • Consumers of the data don’t necessarily abide by the license conditions when they are licensed

    • Data is not provided in a format that is appropriate for developers to use

  • Cultural challenges exist – farmers don’t want to share the secrets of their success with others because they operate in competition with one another.

  • There is a lack of awareness and understanding of how open data can be beneficial to both publisher and reuser (entrepreneur)

  • There is a lack of capacity and capability to prepare, publish and maintain the data within many third and public sector organisations.

How to submit an entry to the GODAN Open Data Challenge

The GODAN Open Data Challenge is powered by Thought for Food and Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH). It is open for submissions until Monday 8 August, midnight GMT. Find out more and submit your entry here.

If you have ideas or experience in open data that you'd like to share, pitch us a blog or tweet us at @ODIHQ.