RDA Webinar Series in Agriculture: Mobilizing Capacity Development for Bridging the Digital Divide in Agriculture, 12 December 2019

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10 Dec 2019
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At the IGAD/RDA 14 Plenary Meeting at the University of Helsinki (Finland), the Agricultural Data Interest Group (IGAD) agreed to start a webinar series to enable high quality presentations and discussions to happen even if we cannot all be together in person at RDA. The Agricultural Data Interest Group (IGAD) exists to facilitate coordination and progress among a community of international data experts.  These webinars will allow us keep up with cutting edge developments in agricultural data, and will encourage the free flow of ideas.

The next webinar will focus on Mobilizing Capacity Development for Bridging the Digital Divide in Agriculture, and will feature Suchith Anand and Foteini Zampati from the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN). Cynthia Parr, Technical Information Specialist, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, will moderate the webinar.

The webinar will be held on 12 December 2019, 16:00 (CET). To join, please register here.


Today, nearly 800 million people in every corner of the globe struggle with debilitating hunger and malnutrition. That is one in every nine people, with the majority being women and children. The solution to Zero Hunger lies within existing, but often unavailable, agriculture and nutrition data. Open Data offers a great potential for innovations from which the agricultural sector can benefit decisively due to a wide range of possibilities for further use.

Mostly in developing countries, smallholder farmers are not harnessing the power of data and must overcome challenges and risks to ensure that investments benefit them. In this case, two are the main challenges that need to overcome: first, to gain access to relevant data and services provided by others and, second, to make sure that any data they share does not actually weaken their positions. Improving data access in agriculture is not only a technical issue; it is also a social, ethical and legal one, having in mind that the world of agriculture is quite diverse, composed of very different types of agricultural methods and farming realities.

Today, our society is globally connected and so is our food system, we source our products from all over the world and agriculture is making significant impacts in local communities. A large share of the world’s farmers could benefit from bridging the digital divide (Jellema et al 2015, Berdou and Miguel Ayala, 2018).

The webinar

To reduce the digital divide in agriculture, we need to strengthen the capacity to access and reuse data. It is important that the digital solutions developed are designed to allow all farming communities to maximize their potential; this is especially true in countries with very low literacy levels and limited knowledge of digital technologies, yet where the untapped agriculture potential remains among the highest in the world.

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Initiative supports proactive sharing of open data to make knowledge on agriculture and nutrition available, accessible and usable, in an effort to deal with the urgent challenge of ensuring world food security.

During this webinar, the presenters, drawing from their experience at GODAN, will determine how we can bridge the digital divide in agriculture by bringing together various stakeholders globally.

Speakers' bios

Dr. Suchith Anand is the Chief Scientist and Adviser at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN).  He is an internationally recognized expert in geospatial science, having authored a wide range of publications; from journal papers, scientific reports and book chapters, to keynote presentations and international strategy documents. He has done a lot of work focused on open principles in the fields of science and education, aiming to help bridge the digital divide, and has served as an invited speaker at the United Nations.  Dr. Anand served as the founding chair of the ICA Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies and Geospatial IG of the Research Data Alliance (RDA). He is a reviewer for many international research council applications, reviewer for leading GIS journals and serves in many scientific committees. Dr Anand serves on the Editorial Board of Journal on Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards and in the Program Board of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). He is leading open geospatial science through the establishment of Open Source Geospatial Labs/Research Centres in key universities worldwide as part of the GeoForAll initiative. Over 100 research laboratories has already been established in universities worldwide as part of this initiative. Dr Anand co-founded GeoForAll with a vision to make geospatial education and digital economy opportunities accessible to all and to enable a better future for everyone.



Foteini Zampati is a legal professional with over 18 years of experience. Since joining the Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture (KTBL) she has been working as a data rights research specialist  to support the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative on Ethical and Legal aspects of Open data. She is responsible for the research and analysis of national and international legislation on Open Data and Intellectual Property, ownership issues and data rights, compliance and best practices across all aspects of national and European privacy and security, as also data protection law and regulation (GDPR) in the agricultural sector.

Foteini holds an LLB in Law and a Master in European Union and Business Law.