Kenya Seeks to Make Open Data Accessible to Farmers

Researchers in Kenya have formed a team to lead the creation of information services for smallholder farmers, based around agriculture and nutrition open data. The group, composed of ICT experts, agricultural researchers, meterologists and representatives of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), plans to integrate weather data and agricultural research data using ICT tools and techniques to produce platforms to analyse large quantities of open data on crops, soil and climate. 

Although a lot of raw agricultural information and weather data is collected accross Kenya, it is not yet available in a format that can benefit smallholders, and accessible weather data could provide farmers, among other things, with early warnings of climatic conditions that might adversely affect their farms and livelihoods.

Andre Laperriere, Executive Director of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative, welcomed the news:

“The formation of the Kenyan research group, consisting of multiple members from agricultural researchers to information, communication and technology (ICT) experts, weathermen and Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), demonstrates the increased recognition of Open Data and the potential it has to help solve global food security issues on a global scale.

The formation of this group to advocate Open Data adoption in the agricultural sector signifies another major step towards the wider acknowledgement of the benefits of cross sharing and collaboration of knowledge and information in developing farming practices, increasing output and as a result, improving livelihoods. On a larger scale, this will align with the UN’s sustainable development goals.

While the growth of Open Data access is demonstrating significant impact in Africa, particularly in areas where the often limited technical capacities of data producers, data managers and data consumers hinder the effective generation and utilization of data products and services in the country, it is important to acknowledge that food security issues are not limited to developing countries. It is important that more governments and organisations cross-fertilize knowledge and share information across borders, so that multiple nations can learn from best practices and tackle ongoing social issues impacting many societies.”