New Agricultural Code of Conduct Toolkit
There is currently no clear legal framework for farm data sharing. While laws and regulations that govern personal data (such as the GDPR) are becoming increasingly common, there remains little legislation covering data in agriculture. A lack of transparency around issues such as data rights, privacy and security are prevalent, and felt by all agricultural stakeholders. Moreover, data transactions are currently governed by contracts and licensing agreements, but the terms of these contracts and agreements are complex, which leaves smallholder farmers with very little negotiating power and mistrustful as a result.
Despite agricultural codes of conduct being voluntary and not legally binding, they nevertheless have the potential to contribute towards major cultural shifts. Codes of conduct provide a solid framework for best practice in data management through the engagement of all stakeholders (including, and especially, farmers) in open dialogue to find solutions that address the needs of everyone involved.
Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR) have launched a toolkit that will allow stakeholders to simulate and build their own agricultural codes of conduct. While the practical benefits of such a tool are obvious, the toolkit will also allow stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the differing needs and concerns of all actors, strengthening trust throughout the data value chain.
The online Agricultural Codes of Conduct Toolkit was developed as a result of a consultative process involving the GODAN/CTA Sub-Group on Data Codes of Conduct, as part of a planned global collective action on Empowering Farmers through Equitable Data Sharing. It began as a review of existing guidelines and principles for farm data sharing, developing into a general, scalable and customisable code of conduct template that addresses the needs of all actors in the agricultural data ecosystem. The initial draft of the Toolkit was circulated for input and feedback during a workshop on codes of conduct held by KTBL in July 2019 in Darmstadt, and has been further refined during a process of continuous consultation with stakeholders.
GODAN Executive Director Andre Laperriere said: “Codes of conduct help include smallholder farmers in decision making, policy design, and enhancement of privacy protection and trust, as well as providing considerable economic and health benefits.”
Chris Addison, Senior Programme Coordinator for Data4Ag at the CTA, who played a key role in the Toolkit design said: “Through our work with the Data4Ag project, together with the Pan African Farmers Organisation, we have discovered a need to clarify what rights of control of data are being offered to farmers organisations when handling farmers data with service providers. The benefits of sharing data to provide services to improve access to input, finance and markets are evident from the projects, but concerns over data governance must be addressed.”
We encourage all entities which collect, use and share data relating to farmers and their businesses to create their own code of conduct and adhere to farm data principles. Any entity involved in the management of agricultural data may also find farm data principles helpful in establishing their own data-related policies. Discover more in the Resources section of the Toolkit.