OpenGov Voices: Moving the food system forward with open data

Martin Parr, operations director for GODAN.

Every day, unprecedented volumes and types of data are generated from new technologies that most people could not have imagined even two decades ago. At the same time, the world is facing the challenge of global food security: Many of the solutions to food security and malnutrition may lie in innovative use of data relevant to the agriculture and nutrition sectors. It is also more important than ever that decision-makers, at all levels of the agricultural system — from the farmer to the policymaker — have access to all relevant information to make informed decisions.

Opening up agricultural and nutritionally relevant datasets has the potential to impact lives through more effective and transparent government, improved government services, better target development programs as well as improved research, science and innovation. A lack of open data and institutional, national and international policies limit the effectiveness of agricultural and nutritional data from research and innovation.

So, opening up and sharing usable data in the agriculture and nutrition sectors is critical to moving forward. Advocating to make this change happen is at the heart of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative.

GODAN seeks to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible and usable for unrestricted use around the world. The initiative focuses on building high-level policy and public and private institutional support for open data. We encourage collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities, bringing together all stakeholders to solve long-standing global problems. The initiative is a growing network of over 100 partner organizations, including the Sunlight Foundation, that are committed to open data in agriculture and nutrition. Partners are highly diverse from small enterprises to large NGOs and foundations to national governments.

Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition.

The importance of open data in agriculture and nutrition was highlighted in 2012, when G8 discussions took place that emphasized the importance of opening up data for combating food insecurity and under-nutrition today, as well as laid the groundwork for a sustainable agricultural system in the future. In April 2013, a G8 international conference on open data in agriculture was held in Washington, D.C., which then led to the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom partnering to start GODAN. The initiative was officially launched in October 2013 at the Open Government Partnership Conference in London.

Open Data is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development by improving the economic opportunities for farmers and the health of all consumers. Open access to research from noycate and open publication of data are vital resources for food security and nutrition, driven by everyone from farmers and researchers to policymakers and governments. We all stand to gain from this effort.

GODAN is open to any organization that is committed to open data for agriculture and nutrition. For more information on GODAN, visit

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