Season's Greetings and a Message from Andre Laperriere

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As we approach the end of a year that has made us all consider questions of food security and nutrition in a new light, I would like to thank you for your continued support and collaboration. 2020 has been a year of extraordinary change, to which we have all had to find innovative ways to adapt. There will be those among us who will have had to adapt to so much more than simply a new way of working though, and to them we extend our heartfelt sympathies, and wish them strength and fortitude in the coming year.

While the worldwide political and economic landscape brought many, varied difficulties to the international development community, it also brought a renewed determination to work together to overcome existing and emerging challenges. To this end, GODAN signed a series of bilateral agreements in 2020 with key partners, strengthening alliances towards increased Open Data awareness and capacity development. The GODAN Network also continues to grow apace.

Through these strategic partnerships, GODAN has contributed to stimulating business initiatives designed to maximise innovation and services delivering safe and nutritious food in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone; and led the creation of 15 University-based Open Data Centres in Africa. These centres provide practical support to smallholders and agri-businesses through the use of open data.

Following an impact study, conducted by postgraduate students at the McGill University between January-September 2020, GODAN was seen to have reduced costs while increasing income, productivity and food security for smallholder farmers across its network. Evidence also suggests that GODAN’s programmes have contributed to a reported 43 percent increase in farm yield and income for smallholders across seven selected countries.

Through its East African regional base, GODAN has created 35 model FarmHubs in the region delivering information directly to farmers to help increase quantity and quality of yield, and by extension productivity and income. The hubs also serve to gather data. Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, based on its initial success, initiated the expansion of the programme from 12 to 31 locations and 1,450 FarmHubs across Kenya alone.

Although we missed our usual face-to-face interaction with the wider open data community, our enthusiasm for collaborative projects was unhindered. During the course of 2020 GODAN has led and partnered in the organisation of a total of 51 events. We authored an additional 32 knowledge product, reaching almost 1 million people worldwide.

In May this year, we launched the Agricultural Data Code of Conduct Toolkit. Built on joint data ethics work with the CTA and GFAR initiative, the work has helped put GODAN at the forefront of the growing agricultural data ethics debate, helping raise awareness of the benefits, risks and challenges of data sharing in digital agriculture, and the need for a more equitable data flow between the various stakeholders.

As part of our ongoing efforts to increase capacity development reach, we have worked with partners to translate our comprehensive Online Course in Agricultural Data into French, with further language versions (Spanish, Turkish and Portuguese, among others) also underway.

2020 did not just mean finding new ways to work, but also discovering new ways to interact with partners and stakeholders due to cancellations of in-person events. We reached a total of nearly 65 million people via traditional and online media, broadcasters, social media, events and training. Our Webinars alone achieved 20,000 individual viewings.

Among other online and virtual activities, we collaborated with Partner organisations on the organisation of the synergistic Virtual Nairobi Inspire Hackathon. Supported by GODAN mentors, one of the Hackathon teams went on to develop a locust invasion mapping tool – using the EU sentinel System and machine learning - now being used by East African Ministries of Agriculture to track and address locust swarms affecting the region.

We have as a global community shown our resilience faced with the numerous challenges 2020 has brought. This year’s festive season brings a well-deserved opportunity to celebrate, relax and celebrate.

However you will be spending this year’s festivities, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a safe and healthy holiday season and new year,

Andre Laperriere 

Executive Director, 
Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition