The key to driving Africa’s agricultural revolution is good data

As the digital revolution of African agriculture takes center stage at the 2019 African Green Revolution Forum, CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture Coordinator Brian King writes on the importance of more and better data for transforming agriculture on the continent and providing new models to ensure no farmer is left behind.

The full version of this article was originally published by the Economist Intelligence Unit via the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition.

Data are quickly becoming the world’s most valuable resource. But just like a worker is only as good as their tools, or a culinary dish, its ingredients—the African digital agriculture revolution cannot take place without more and better data.

For decades, developed economies have collected large quantities of farm data for analysis, and this historical information forms the foundation of the “AgTech” industry, a new wave of innovation in agricultural technology.

However, not all countries have access to a wealth of agricultural data records. The lack of substantial data records in Africa limits the continent’s ability to develop and deploy AgTech tools. This data gap is best described by three data quality challenges: availability, reliability, and accuracy. In some countries, data are not collected systematically or regularly. Where data do exist, validity and reliability are often causes for concern.

Given these limitations, the power of African digital innovation in agriculture will remain largely untapped until data for the public good is developed. These data assets lower barriers to entry, leading to increased innovation.

Read more about CGIAR’s work to aggregate data, build a strong data foundation, and accelerate digital innovation in the agricultural sector.

September 4, 2019

Brian King

Coordinator
CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture
Cali, Colombia
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