How can ‘big data’ transform smallholder farmers’ lives and livelihoods?

For many years ‘big data’ has been considered by many as the privilege of the few. Because of its volume, it could only be handled by large corporations, essentially based in the west; because of its complexity, it required high level specialists to manage it, and because of the cost of putting it together, it rested out of reach of the common person’s purse. This has changed. During this lifetime, the world has gone through three consecutive and very fundamental revolutions. The first was the Internet connecting the world together. The second was the emergence of intelligent devices, starting with mobile phones, bringing knowledge to your fingertips. The third revolution is here: open data. Knowledge can now flow across the world with accuracy, at a speed and volume never reached before. The world of agriculture is one of the key beneficiaries of this latest revolution, seeing for the first time the innovative benefits of a true ‘cooperative development process’ taking place. Governments are opening their data; research is working hand in hand with the private sector; and civil society – consumers and farmers alike – is voicing its needs and triggering innovation tailored to its capacity, situation and choices. As a result, even in the most remote areas today you can see applications using the latest technology – and ‘big data’ – in the hands of farmers and in a form and shape that makes sense for them. Applications are affordable and manageable, allowing their users to gradually overcome subsistence farming to reach a higher quality of life. Globally this means that continents where agriculture is still the key development engine see their economy improving, hunger decreasing and innovation flourishing. This is what will lead the world to overcome the emerging food security challenges ahead of us, and contribute greatly to allow developing countries to reach their full potential. This presentation describes this process and gives concrete examples of where and how ‘big data’ is now used by small farmers; and more generally, how open data is changing the face of global agriculture.

Issue Date:
Aug 08 2017
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
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 Record created 2018-01-17, last modified 2018-01-22

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