On 9-10 of May, GODAN partnered with the European branch of the Global Forum of Innovation in Agriculture (GFIA) the world's largest dedicated expo of sustainable agriculture solutions, to spotlight the business case for open data in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Open innovation, together with open data, is figuring more prominently in food and agricultural businesses' strategies, alongside the conversation around pre-competitive spaces and how they may benefit all.

Through a partnership with GFIA, GODAN showcased stories of the impact and value of open data in agriculture, food and nutrition for businesses to help them make profitable strategic decisions. GODAN is exploring how open data and standards can foster open innovation and collaborative research as has been seen in other industries. 

The first day of the event saw many highlights including sessions with high profile speakers around climate change, food security, the importance of new agricultural technologies and the development of existing ones.

At a special GODAN business leaders event, organized with the support of the GFIA Secretariat and the Global Partnerships Forum, top level change makers and peers from the private, public and non-profit sectors discussed the benefits of open agriculture, nutrition data for food system efficiency and how open innovation and pre-competitive spaces may benefit all. The lunch was moderated by Amir Dossal, President of the Global Partnerships Forum.

The event focused on two key themes: ‘Why open data is good for business’ and ‘What role can pre-competitive spaces play’.

Speakers at the business leaders event included:

  • Alec Griffiths (R&D IS AIS Service Lead, Syngenta)
  • Bill Haraka (Managing Director and Co-Founder, TEC-IB)
  • David Cockram (Senior Director, Global Regulatory Science and Innovation, Abbott Nutrition)
  • Gilles Boumeester (Global Head of Rabobank Food & Agri Research and Advisory)

It was opened with an introduction from Andre Laperriere, Executive Director of GODAN, who stressed the initiative’s mission to promote co-operation for open data.

Laperriere said “we encourage collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities, without duplication, and bring together all stakeholders to solve long-standing global problems.”

Next, a Farm Data Train animation on the FAIR principles gave some clear examples of the use of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data in the context of farming activities.

Speaking about data and use of data in the food and agribusiness industry, Gilles Boumeester, Global Head RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness of Rabobank said:

"New technologies take many shapes, forms and sizes, ranging from software tools accessed through the Internet and backed up by cloud computing storage, to hybrid hardware/software combination offerings (sensoring) that are ‘smart,’ i.e., they can interact with each other wirelessly and digitally with minimal human intervention.  

The potential of substantial value creation in agriculture by applying new technologies has attracted a whole suite of companies from different sectors not traditionally active in agriculture, and technology start-ups funded by venture capital. Since the beginning of 2014, 6.8 billion USD of capital has been invested into new precision farming and digital companies that seek to modernize farming.

Despite the strong conceptual foundation for use, several forces are preventing full-scale customer adoption of data-intensive tools in farming, in particular the following three will need further addressing:

• “VALUE PROPOSITION: Many of the new so-called disruptive data technologies lack a clearly articulated value proposition and in fact, are not “proven” in the sense that they can demonstrate (with reasonable certainty) a calculated return on investment or payback period.  This contrasts the situation that happens when new seed technologies come to market, a process in which field trials over multiple growing seasons culminate in a proof of concept, helping ensure customer trust and subsequent product adoption.

• ECOSYSTEM: Digital farming lacks a proper ecosystem whereby the value chain can easily communicate with each other.  What is needed here is a standardized open operating system and/or platform which can connect various stakeholders (farmers, software vendors, equipment manufacturers and data analytics companies) and enable data sharing, analysis and collaboration.

• OWNERSHIP: Data ownership and privacy remain unresolved issues.  There continues to be much debate in the global farming community regarding the collection, use and ownership of the grower data that underpins precision farming prescriptions.  These concerns are valid and intersect with a much broader and emotional conversation surrounding privacy.

Rabobank believes that these issues can be resolved, albeit taking time, and at times we can help where data helps us to deepen our understanding of the financial outcome of our customers, be it farmers or parties in the food and agribusiness chain. "

Speaking about the urgent need for the private sector to collaborate in the open data space, Laperrière said:

“Achieving world food security through sustainable agriculture is one of the biggest challenges of our time as enshrined in the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. Open data - data that anyone can access, use or share - can help shape solutions by enabling more efficient and effective decision-making at multiple levels across the agricultural value chain, fostering innovation via new services and applications, and driving organisational change through transparency.

Large amounts of data are collected and generated by governments to develop and monitor policies and stimulate developments. By publishing this data as open data and stimulating the use and uptake by the sector, we can improve different areas: empowering farmers, optimising agricultural practice, stimulating rural finance, facilitating the agri value chain, enforcing policies, and promoting government transparency and efficiency. We are therefore reaching out to businesses and the private sector to demonstrate the scope and credibility open data offers as a strong tool for business innovation, productivity and profitability.”

Set the data free: GODAN calls for private sector collaboration in open data  

Laperrière opened the second day of GFIA Europe with a keynote speech on the theme of “Visionaries Shaping the Future Agriculture Innovation Landscape," which was an opportunity to hear the vision of individuals pushing the agriculture innovation agenda to the next level to enable competitive and sustainable food production.

He was joined by Dr. Aalt Dijkhuizen, President of Dutch Topsector Agri&Food, and Liam Condon, President of Crop Science Division, Bayer AG who discussed the importance of pushing the agriculture innovation agenda to the next level to enable competitive and sustainable food production.

During the day’s closing remarks, Laperrière highlighted the impact of open data:

“The key to unlock our full potential lies in technology, knowledge, and in particular in open data.  In 1985 less than 3% of the data produced worldwide was in a digital format.  20 years later it was 97%.  This means we do now have the capacity to share, combine, analyse and use data in a manner never possible before.  We have now the means, to make and allow our leaders to make better, fact based decisions at a rate and at a quality never achieved so far.  This is the true digital revolution.”

He reiterated the urgent need for the private sector to collaborate in the open data space, saying: “Here in this GFIA, we heard about talent, creativity, innovation in a wide range of areas using data.  We heard about efficient Ag practices, innovation in poultry, cattle, aquaculture, drones, financing – especially for small farmers – moreover we spoke about knowledge and therefore we spoke about data. So GODAN’s message is simple: let’s set the data free.  Let’s release it, use it, bring it to the best use of all.”

Other highlights from the day included keynote sessions on developing sustainable agricultural technologies for emerging markets and accelerating agtech adoption on the farm.

More information: GFIA Europe 2017

GFIA is the world's largest dedicated expo of sustainable agriculture solutions.

When GFIA was launched in 2014 at the invitation of the Abu Dhabi government, it leveraged partnerships with 40 powerful organisations including the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank, that wanted a platform to show the world how technology gives us the only real chance of feeding nine billion people without destroying the environment.

Now an internationally acclaimed annual event in Abu Dhabi, GFIA is the world's largest showcase of sustainable agriculture innovations. It is not only a forum for stakeholders to discuss policy, strategy and solutions for a food secure future, but hosts a large exhibition where suppliers can meet thousands of farmers and procurement managers right along the value chain.

The GFIA team that delivered the largest agricultural event in the Middle East in 2016 brought GFIA Europe to the Netherlands for the first time during this 9–10 May, 2017 event.

For more information: www.gfiaeurope.com

Click here to view GODAN’s photos and highlights from GFIA Europe.