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This is an exciting new frontier in agricultural research-for-development. Better use of data will help drive better policy decisions, helping solve development problems more quickly, cheaply, and at a greater scale than before. 

The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is where information becomes power: power to predict, prescribe, and produce more food, more sustainably. It democratizes decades of agricultural data empowering analysts, statisticians, programmers and more to mine information for trends and quirks, and develop rapid, accurate and compelling recommendations for farmers, researchers and policymakers.

The need for a platform…

The Platform aims to positively disrupt agricultural research, helping to generate impactful big data innovations that can revolutionize farming in developing countries.

It 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. It will also help ensure that the data revolution is deep, diffuse and democratic, reaching the most vulnerable farmers.

As the largest network of agricultural research organizations in the world, CGIAR is uniquely positioned to be a thought leader and global convener on the use of big data and information technology in agriculture.

Platform objectives

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.

It 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.

Why the platform?

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, and it 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 deliver 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 conference, bringing key actors to CGIAR to generate innovations and democratize big data opportunities. It also 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 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.