Enabling Open Access to Agricultural Data and Information
 It can open new avenues for research. This data can be used to improve efficiencies of production and farming systems and agricultural market chains at global, regional and national levels. It can improve food safety and contribute to risk management in farming. Opening access to research data and information into the public domain can bring about new agricultural services, agribusiness opportunities and agro-industries. In research, this data can contribute significantly to solving issues emerging from climate change enabling both adaptation to it and its mitigation. It can contribute to conserving, effectively using and recovering natural resources including degraded soils and water, reducing risks and managing the spread of diseases and pests and loss of biodiversity. It can improve value addition chains of agricultural commodities especially those for food.
 
GFAR has been contributing to advocacy and promotion as also enabling open access to agricultural research data and its effective use. In April, GFAR as one of the founding partners of CIARD, a movement to make agricultural research information and knowledge publicly accessible to all, participated and at a consultation organized at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa and through dialogue with all other CIARD partners enlarged the scope of the movement to include a focus on opening and enabling access to research data and making effective use of information. Following up on the theme, it organized and discussed with other participants at the IST-Africa 2013 meet in Nairobi, Kenya in May issues and benefits of opening access to agricultural research data in the public domain.
 
GFAR’s approach to opening access to research data for agricultural development is in consonance to global opinions and approaches in opening access to data with specificity to data generated by agricultural research systems and organizations. It will largely be based on advocacy for opening access, building appropriate capacities especially in making policies and strategies, developing and using standards and in technical issues related to opening access to research data. GFAR is approaching the various AR4D stakeholders and actors in from public, private and civil society/community sectors advocating the development of appropriate frameworks, policies and strategies to implement more open access to research data related to agriculture, facilitating and supporting the development of standards, negotiating improved  data and information flows and contributing to developing appropriate capacities through collaboration and partnerships at global, regional and national levels.
 
GFAR also discussed at a workshop session organized in collaboration with various private sector actors during the European Federation of Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and Environment (EFITA-2013) at Turin in July community-public-private partnerships in opening access to agricultural data and information. The current user communities and individuals, with farmer and civil society organizations in the lead, are organizing themselves through participatory efforts to generate data and information related to agriculture and natural resource use. This local data and information, such as of soils and water, agricultural biodiversity, disease and pests etc., used through GIS systems is proving to be far more accurate, relevant and current than that acquired through conventional approaches such as surveys. The private sector has seen the potential of agricultural knowledge services and has initiated businesses that generate value added services such as for advising farmers through call centers, assessing risk for financial and insurance service providers, forecasts on markets in addition to being channel providers and generating applications. The public sector in developing countries, however, still finds it difficult to link up with the private sector and use the community sector to leverage its data and information management, especially in generating accurate local data, in disseminating information, new skills, knowledge and technology and in acting as a “Trust” organization in validating the relevance and accuracy of agricultural information.