Achieving Food and Nutrition Security through Open Access Data - Global Food Policy Report 2018

The 2018 Global Food Policy Report has emphasised the need for open access data in achieving food and nutrition security.

The report says reducing hunger and malnutrition requires evidence-based decision making, which in turn depends upon access to knowledge and data. Published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the report points out that accessible data are critical for decision making, from the farm to the retail level of food systems.

Key findings from the report show open data can improve the performance of food systems and help achieve global food and nutrition security. It can increase both the visibility and utility of research, allowing researchers to create more knowledge products and support decision making. Open data allow governments to make evidence-based policy decisions and push governments toward increased accountability.

The report also lists the some main challenges, that data quality and ease of use are essential for putting data to use, but datasets are often too large or complex to be easily handled. It says Inequality in access to knowledge is increasing. Data policies, commitments, and investments can improve access to and use of knowledge, but current commitment and action on open data are uneven.

GODAN supports the proactive sharing of open data to make information about agriculture and nutrition available, accessible and usable to deal with the urgent challenge of ensuring world food security.

The report points out that:

“A cornerstone of open access must be reducing the knowledge inequality within and among societies that arises from both lack of access and lack of capacity to make use of the world’s growing store of knowledge and data.”

It recommends that data access must be democratised to improve livelihoods by putting data tools, such as mobile-phone apps, into farmers’ hands; that the efficiency of knowledge transfers be increased to prevent loss of information and ensure uptake in the field, and that government “big data” be made public to in order to drive high-quality analysis of food systems, better policy and decision making.

Other recommendations include building open data initiatives to reduce inequality and address issues of data quality, use, storage, and dissemination; and increasing data quality and ease of use through better data collection, new tools, working groups, capacity building, and improvements in big data platforms. Empowering citizen stakeholders to demand open data through capacity building and access to data tools.

A GODAN partner, IFPRI’s strategic research aims to foster a climate-resilient and sustainable food supply; promote healthy diets and nutrition for all. Its aims to build inclusive and efficient markets, trade systems, and food industries; transform agricultural and rural economies; and strengthen institutions and governance. Gender is integrated in all of IFPRI’s work.

Report authors: Indira Yerramareddy, Manager for Knowledge Management and Web, Communications and Public Affairs Division, and Suresh Chandra Babu, a senior research fellow and head of the Capacity Strengthening Program, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA.