What role can ICTs play in using Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition for family farmers?

Femi Oyeniyi
Femi OyeniyiUniversity of IbadanNigeria

Specifically, ICTs will help to democratise valuable information and this achievement can mean the difference between success and failure for two hypothetical smallholder farmers (as a case study). Timely availability of information to these farmers on rainfall patterns, source of quality and improved seeds, how to access quality fertilizers, groups willing to make purchase of produce abd the form in which they will prefer it are some of the advantages they stand to gain.

Dear all,

Data and, more important, information are crucial for every endeavor to succeed. Agriculture is no exception. Information is a capital good, as are land and seed. However, acquiring it and using are usually difficult in their own, but ICT or Digital Technologies are particularly useful for the task.

That said, in this post I would like to stress the point of data acquisition, and later in another one, the transformation of data into useful-actionable information and its dissemination.

Data acquisition in agriculture is expensive, and because of this is mainly undertaken by governments, universities, NGO's, etc. and mostly with different purposes in mind. So most data gathered by this actors is not very useful at the farm level. 

We argue that data must be acquired at the point of origin, the individual farm. Then it can be aggregated and processed to get a better view of market and production.

As said above, Digital Technologies are very powerful for this task. We need to bring farmers to the digital space through useful applications, so their common production-commercial activities generate point of origin data, that can then be processed into useful actionable information at the farm level.

Any thoughts?

Gaurav Singh Basnyat
Gaurav Singh BasnyatWorld Vision International NepalNepal

Hi there,


What do we think about the farmers with no technology adoption? Some farmers either doesn't have the reach towards technology or numericy is a problem due to lack of literacy. How can we reach those farmers through the implementation of different technologies?

Mutiu Lasisi
Mutiu LasisiEnterprations LimitedNigeria

Dear All,
My submission is that before ICTs could play a meaning role and sustainable one we need to have field data collectors who understand the nitty gritty of various new technogies useful for collecting data before production, during production, marketing and consumption stages.
In developing countries, most extension workers lack the required skills set.

Exactly, that's the point!

Digital technology for data acquisition and capture in different points of the value chain, e.g. Market places, raw material suppliers, up loaded by farmers themselves, and a long etc.

However there might be data that can only be acquired by direct human interaction, but we already have technology to derive info from different data sets and types.

There's an opportunity!



Vassilis Protonotarios
Vassilis ProtonotariosNEUROPUBLIC S.A.Greece

That's a point that should draw our attention: Data acquisition is the first step in the whole data management and exploitation process and in this context, it should be carefully designed and implemented in all data-powered applications. While some types of data used in the agridfood sector are automatically recorded (e.g. sensor, remote sensing etc.), in many cases, the quality of the data depends on the knowledge of the person responsible for the recording.

An interesting example is the concept of CABI's PlantWise programme, where Plant Doctors (see for example here) are carefully trained individuals who have the knowledge to support the needs of the programme. In a similar way, those involved with data recording should also be trained to do so in the best possible way (thus minimizing possible errors).

Annrose Mwangi
Annrose MwangiCANIS (university of Nairobi)Kenya

I agree with you Vprot on the aspect that quality of data depend on the knowledge. This point is the key to the sucess of ICT and agriculture. In Kenya so many people have developed beautiful agricuture mobile apps but the implementation does not exist, why there was no knowledge behind it for this person to first understand the concept behind agriculture  and nutrition at small scale farmer level. Which include culture, traditional methods of feeding and farming, level of education and the understanding concept of the farmer. If all this can be taken seriously the mobile apps can start making sense and the maps will speak sense too and easily understood for decision making.

Garcia Honvoh
Garcia HonvohIMAGE-ADGhana

That is right on spot! The knowledge of the thematique bearing in mind all you said is same i tried to battle in my earlier submission. ICT yes but it should be the right one taking into account all you listed.

Vassilis Protonotarios
Vassilis ProtonotariosNEUROPUBLIC S.A.Greece

The evoloution of technology has led to an abundance of ICT tools (such as agriculture-focused apps for smartphones, as you mention in your post). However, it seems that not all of them take into consideration the needs of the potential end users (e.g. farmers) so it is hard for them to use. For example, if there is no provision for offline data recording using smartphones in the field, then even a willing farmer (but with no internet connection in the field) will not be able to make the most out of it.

The design of ICT tools should follow a bottom-up approach, so farmers should be the ones providing the requirements that will drive the design and development of apps. Validation of the apps (and other ICT tools) is also a crucial factor, in order to ensure that apps work as expected under various different conditions and with minimum effort from the end user. Last but not least, training on the use of the apps is an important factors, so that end users will fully understand what they can do with an app and how to do it.

Of course, these conditions are hard to apply in the case of individual app (or ICT tools) developers, how do not have the capacity (e.g. financial) to ensure the applicability of these different aspects of their (usually free) apps.

Suchith Anand
Suchith AnandGlobal Open Data for Agriculture and NutritionUnited Kingdom

Good to see the excellent inputs and discussions from all. Capacity Development and Training at all levels is key aspect that we need to consider. There  needs to be   emphasise on local language interfaces, icon and voice-based input rather that keyboard input both because of mobile device restrictions and because of low levels of literacy in some rural farming communities.  Icon and voice-based user interfaces needs to be used where feasible to minimise the impact of the multiple languages and varying levels of literacy . Technical service components and functionality  will need focusing on agriculture and rural enterprise – both key factors for alleviation of poverty and achieving the SDGs of the UN.