About the Platform

Using big data to solve agricultural development problems faster, better and at greater scale.

Using big data approaches to solve agricultural development problems faster, better and at a greater scale than before.

Data has become a valuable global commodity. But it is much more than simply information: in expert hands, it is intelligence.

Already, analysts are finding ways to turn big data — the immense stocks of information collected in computers worldwide — into an invaluable resource for planning and decision-making. It is helping accelerate the development of robust responses to some of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change/variability, food insecurity and malnutrition, and environmental degradation. It is transforming the world of genomics and crop breeding and revolutionizing disciplines from climate modelling to agronomy. It is helping refine policies and improve lives.

The smart and effective use of data will be one of the most important tools for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Big data represents an unprecedented opportunity to find new ways of reducing hunger and poverty, by applying data-driven solutions to ongoing research for development impact.



The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is carried out with support from the CGIAR Trust Fund, UKAID and through bilateral funding agreements.

Organize, Convene, and Inspire

The ultimate goal of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is to harness the capabilities of big data to accelerate and enhance the impact of international agricultural research. This 5-year platform (2017 – 2021) will provide global leadership in organizing open data, convening partners to develop innovative ideas, and demonstrating the power of big data analytics through inspiring projects.

CGIAR is uniquely positioned to be a thought leader on the use of big data and information technology in agriculture to drive equitable rural development.


Support and improve data generation, access, and management in CGIAR

The Platform embraces the power of big data analytics, supporting CGIAR as it becomes a leader in generating actionable data-driven insights for stakeholders. It builds capacity throughout CGIAR to generate and manage big data, assisting CGIAR and its partners’ efforts to comply with open access / open data principles to unlock important research and datasets. It empowers researchers to strengthen data analytical capacity, developing practical big data tools and services in a coordinated way. It also addresses critical gaps, both organizational and technical, expanding the horizon of CGIAR research.


Collaborate and convene around big data and agricultural development

The Platform empowers CGIAR and its community to deliver on the potential of big data to bring results for smallholder agriculture. It develops ambitious external partnerships, bringing together big data practitioners with global private sector brands, local start-ups, universities, and others to facilitate collaboration and ideation. It convenes an annual big data in agriculture convention, bringing key actors to CGIAR to generate innovations and democratize big data opportunities. The Platform builds capacity internally and externally on big data approaches in agriculture, developing communities of practice that will encourage interaction and further engage a range of actors to produce new ideas to solve development problems.


Lead by example and inspire how big data can deliver development outcomes

The Platform demonstrates the power of CGIAR big data analytics through “Inspire” projects that solve development challenges at the core of our mission. It challenges partners, universities and others to use our data to create pilot opportunities that scale. It shows the power of big data analytics and ICTs to provide unprecedented multi-disciplinary data to researchers, delivering actionable information to farmers and inspiring others to use big data to create impact. It also provides venture capital that funds novel approaches, democratizing big data to include smallholder farmers and monitoring the state of agriculture and food security in real time to inform critical national, regional and global policies and decisions.

Impacts by 2021

The Platform aims to increase the impact of agricultural development by embracing big data approaches to solve development problems faster, better and at greater scale than before.

The Platform will focus on opening up and sharing agricultural data, demonstrating that CGIAR is able to hold in trust and deliver data-related global public goods. In this way CGIAR will become a broker of big data information, actively promoting data-driven agricultural development.

The Platform will also work to develop novel methodologies and innovative pilot projects to increase the impact of its community or researchers and analysts. It will establish non-traditional partnerships to bring together institutions with complementary big data expertise, connecting CGIAR scientists to a global network of big data practitioners and developers, expanding the delivery capability and horizons of CGIAR research.

The expected outcomes of the Platform include:

  • Greater data and knowledge sharing across CGIAR – by reducing barriers to information access and reuse, the Platform will democratize information availability and use, to help farmers and policymakers take reliable, informed decisions.
  • Foster a culture of open access publishing and data sharing across CGIAR Centers and partner organizations
  • Recognition of CGIAR as a global thought leader on big data in agriculture and 

A Global Alliance

The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture iglobal. It connects experts all over the world to tackle stubborn agricultural challenges across the developing world, from Africa and Asia to Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The 15 CGIAR Research Centers and 12 Research Programs are partners in the Platform, alongside 70 external thought partners ranging international institutions, universities to private companies. They cover public to private, developing to developed countries, and analytics to ICT deployment.


Arizona State University
Berkeley Lab
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Columbia University
Conservation International
Data Pop Alliance
First Mile Geo / Native