Amparo Ballivian

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Amparo Ballivian
Amparo BallivianWorld BankUnited States of America

Before I comment on the 3rd question ("~~What investments are needed to reap open data benefits and what precautions are needed to prevent damage to vulnerable farmers from opening data for agriculture and nutrition?") allow me to say taht I agree very much with the comment posted by "naca" saying that the benefits of open data vastly exceed the potential harms to farmers.

Investments to make sure that Open Data benefits the agricultural community inlcude:

- Clear policy, establishing the legal license for data use and re-use. The license (sometimes called "terms of use") has to allow free access to the data, without the need to register, and allow also the data user to use and re-use the data for any purpose, including for commercial purposes. Without this license it can not be called Open data, because there would be no legally-sanctioned reuse of the data.

- Software tools for the Open Data portal and baisc data management. These are not very expensive. There are many open source tools. Even the cost of SaaS (software as a service) for open data is relatively low.

- Continued interaction with data users and application developers, from the starting decision of what data to open, to the development of computer applications that use the data, and everything in between. Data re-use is at the core of Open Data, so knowling very well the people who will re-use the data is key to the success of the program. Keep in mind that there are many data intermediaries, so data is not consumed directly from the publisher. Re-users include academia, media, app developers, other government departments, private sector and others.

- Data quality reviews. This includes producing and publishing metadata (and hopefully giving API access to both the data and the metadata) of every data set in the Open Data portal, as well as checking for accuracy, timeliness, consistency, freqeuncy and other quality attributes of the data to be opened. Many coutnries have used the Open Data program as a way to improve the quality of data by asking users to report data problems and interacting with them to solve data quality issues.

To see a brief on the needed investments, I recomend reading "Open Data in 60 Seconds" at http://opendatatoolkit.worldbank.org/en/

In terms fo risks, the only one I can think of is privacy risk and this pertains only to personal information. There are no risks in many of the data that are typically opened: meteorology, yields, prices and other market info, ag property prices, land quality and access, ag science data and many other datasets. All of these do not inlcude information on individuals, so there are no privacy risks.



Amparo Ballivian
Amparo BallivianWorld BankUnited States of America

I agree with Chipo's post. In my answer of last week I sent links to a variety of other publications showing impact of Open Data for agriculture and nutrition. All of them show positive impact. I have not heard of a single example of damages of Open Data for agriculture and nutrition. There are few negative impacts in other sectors, when realted to personally identifiable information that is not anonymized. But since most Open Data is not personal, this has not been a big issue.


I am nt an expert in ICT, so I prefer not to commetn on that.

Amparo Ballivian
Amparo BallivianWorld BankUnited States of America

One can find 3 separate questions within the question: (a) What is the role of ICTs in Open Data? (b) What is the role of Open Data in agriculture and nutrition and (c) How can Open Data benefit family farmers? Here are a few thoughts on each of these.

(a) What is the role of ICTs in Open Data?

There is no Open Data (with capital letters) without ICTs. That is because one fo the two defining characteristics of Open Data, machine readability, is an ICT concept. There could still be data openly available to the public without the use of ICT technologies, for example, the case of the rural school which decided to publish its budget by writting it in chalk on the school walls as a way of soliciting parents and community views on it. That is admirable and deserving of support, but it does not allow for data re-use, which is the main benefit of Open Data.

(b) What is the role of Open Data in agriculture and nutrition?

There are many ways in whcih the goals of agricultural and nutrition policies can be advanced with the use of Open Data. these range from better policies, to wider coverage of agriculture and nutrition public services, to improved coordination within the public sector, opportunities for new private business (which in turns contirbute to GDP growth and employment) and more transparency and public participation in the policies, programs and projects in the two sectors. Rather than cite examples, interested readers could consult examples of the use of Open Data for agriculture and nutrition at:

(c) How can Open Data benefit family farmers?

The various channels thorugh which Open Data can contribute to progress in agriculture and nutrition create benefits for a wide range of stakeholders in these two sectors: farmers large and small, consumers, policy makers, media, researchers and many others. But it can be argued that the benefits may be comparatively larger for small farmers, because large farmers have the means to access and exploit data even when it is not Open in the technical and legal sense. Making data available in re-useable formats and for free to everyone allows the creation of various applications that use the data to convey information, create transactional platforms, allow analysis and other applications. These re-uses of Open Data make it more user-friendly and easier to consume for small farmers, who otherwise may not have access to relevant data and, even if they did have access to it, may not have the capacity to understand it and use it practical ways. Several of the examples given in point (b) above illustrate this point.