Our Initiatives

The whole of CGIAR pivoted its 2020 plans towards response, recovery, and long-term resiliency of global food in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The BIG DATA Platform is supporting that effort, serving a cross-cutting, big-data enabling, and partnership role for our global organization.

Catalyzing innovative, big data projects’ responses to food security challenges

In response to the unfolding food security issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, CGIAR’s Platform for Big Data in Agriculture awarded three grants, a combined total of US$100,000, to agile, big-data enabled projects working to tackle food system challenges.

The Platform’s Rapid Response Grant application process was made available to current or previous Inspire Challenge winners to build on their learnings as pilot or scale-up projects and leverage their innovative, data-driven designs to respond to the situation with agility.

Explore the winning projects and follow this page to read more about the Inspire Challenge Rapid Response Grants process.


While the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a slew of challenges for farmers and consumers alike, surprising opportunities have begun to appear that could pave the way for a new and more resilient global food system.

Between June and August, we hosted seven sessions inviting the wider development community to help map out the direct impacts of COVID-19 across food value chains to gleaned data-driven recommendations and solutions moving forward. Speaker profiles ranged from startups working on the ground to leading experts, scientists and researchers from key partners and organisations, including CGIAR, IFAD, GSMA, and Digtial Green, to name a few.

Opportunities for global, cross-sector collaboration to transform food systems that have arisen from the pandemic include:

  • expanded uses of social media networks and mobile phones,
  • more direct relationships between producers and consumers,
  • big data for predictive analysis, accelerated digital transformation,
  • recognized need for digital innovation, and
  • improved data collection, sharing, and ethical, open collaboration.

You can access the episodes and read summaries of key talking points below, or read the key takeaways from the series here.


Enabling data-driven food systems insights

How can the development community contribute to food system recovery and resilience?

In the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, open, data-driven collaboration and digitally-enabled global collective action are key tools for recovering and (re)building resilient global food systems. BIG DATA facilitates access to shared services to big-data enable response, recovery, and resilience. We anticipate these services will contribute to equip researchers and programs to sense and respond in a unified way to the crisis.

We identified some key ways CGIAR, BIG DATA and partners, and the wider development community can help. Read more here.


CGIAR news and resources

Science on resilient, healthy, and sustainable food systems has never been more critical. A united CGIAR is working to build back better, through a transformation of the world’s food systems.

Click here to learn more about CGIAR’s COVID response.