Capacities for Change, GFAR blog

Closing the webinar series on Farmers’ access to data

As part of our work on farmers’ rights to data and following up on the face-to-face course on Farmers’ Access to Data organized in Centurion in November 2017, GFAR organized 6 webinars to make the content of the course available to everybody. The webinars were co-convened with GODAN and CTA and were conducted by some of the trainers and presenters of the Centurion event.


The series is complete now, the last webinar of this series was held on 10 May 2018

Below are the descriptions and and video recordings of all the webinars.

Webinar 1. Data-driven agriculture overview

Presenter: Dan Berne
Thursday 22 February, 4pm CET

“Data-driven agriculture overview” – presenter Dan Berne
Webinar held, watch the video recording


Precision agriculture is a promising set of technologies that is data intensive, but which has limited adoption by small holder farms in Sub-Saharan Africa. Concurrently, current trends in sustainability, traceability, and compliance reporting demand that an ever-increasing amount of data be gathered as part of everyday operations in modern production agriculture.

The use of farm management information systems (FMIS) for decision support has shown great promise for improving farm yields and profitability. However, growers are often unsure of the value of the data that they are providing and/or receiving. How does this data help them make the right decisions to improve their yield and profitability? How do growers and service providers work together to simplify the design and use of farm data? How can smallholder farmers take advantage of data in a mutually valuable relationship with data providers?

Webinar Goals

Provide attendees a foundation for understanding the use of data for farming and across the agricultural value chain. Attendees should be able to apply the core concepts of using data for field operations, as well as how data is used across the value chain. Attendees will be introduced to the opportunities and challenges of using data, especially for smallholder farmers.

About the presenter

DanDan Berne is a highly regarded professional business growth strategist with over 30 years’ experience. Dan led the effort to create an Ag Irrigation market strategy for the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA). He also conducted grower experience studies to help identify barriers to grower adoption of energy saving practices. Dan wrote or co-wrote many of the NEEA Ag Irrigation reports. Dan serves as the Project Manager on AgGateway’s Precision Ag Irrigation Language data standards project. He is an affiliate of the Chasm Institute, and a certified practitioner of Innovation Games.

Dan started the “Lagom Ag Initiative” within his company to help accelerate the adoption of precision farming practices and improve the use of digital agricultural methodologies. Lagom is a Swedish word that means “just enough.” It is also used to mean “simply perfect.” It fits our philosophy of helping farmers use just enough water, just enough fertilizers, just enough energy to be profitable while increasing or maintaining yield.

Webinar 2. Key data for farmers

Presenter: Stephen Kalyesubula
Wednesday 28 February, 4pm CET

“Key data for farmers” – presenter Stephen Kalyesubula
Webinar held, watch the recording


Data becomes significant if it can be linked to information, knowledge and wisdom. Once processed it can be used to generate detailed insights into farm operations and the environment.  It assists big and small holder farmers in making data-based operational decisions to optimize yield and boost revenue while minimizing expenses, the chances of crop failure, and environmental impact.

For data driven agriculture to happen we have to distinguish the data streams in the food chain from pre-planting to consumption, for example: data collected and managed from the farm by farmers which can be either static or dynamic; data coming from external sources like market prices and data that is exported for aggregation by other farm service providers. However, farmers may not be in a position to realize those streams and possibly what data and information is required to answer the food chain questions, for example: What produce can I grow where I live? When should I sow/plant/harvest/market it? How should I sow/plant/harvest/market it? All these questions can be answered if the factual data or information is used or made available to the farmers.

Webinar Goals

Make the participants understand the different key data streams, flow and sources that are vital to agricultural value chains. Participants will be in position to identify the data they own or collect on their farms and its usefulness, understand the difference between human and machine farm data, identify the part in the agricultural value chain where data, and which data, is needed most.

About the presenter

StephenStephen Kalyesubula is a Computer Engineering and an agri-preneur from Makerere University. He is a graduate researcher at iLabs@Mak Project – Makerere University and his key technological interests include: Data science, robotics, Internet of things, AI and design thinking. He is among the directors of Youths In Technology and Development Uganda whose mission is to create tech communities of practice where appropriate use of technology promotes sustainable development in agriculture, health and education.

Stephen has conducted various base line surveys to identify the key data required for small holder farmers in Mukono district, Uganda and his focus is on unlocking the potential of key data to allow growers make informed decisions. He is also working as a Country Director in Uganda for AgriGroomers, South Africa and his responsibility is to extend data analysis skills to the open data team through using open source technologies.  He is also part of the GODAN Capacity Development Group and GODAN Action Network of Trainees.

Webinar 3. Crossing the Donga – Accelerating Market Adoption and Use of Data by Smallholders

Presenter: Dan Berne

Monday 26 March, 4pm CEST
Duration: 1 hour, with 15 minutes for questions

“Crossing the Donga – Accelerating Market Adoption and
Use of Data by Smallholders” – presenter Dan Berne
Webinar held, watch the recording:

This webinar is a continuation of exploring digital agriculture for smallholder farmers. Our first webinar provided an overview of digital agriculture, the trends impacting it, and it advantages and challenges for smallholder farmers. Our second identified specific data needed by farmers, as well as potential sources.

“Crossing the Donga” will provide smallholder farmers, and those who support them, specific methods for ensuring farmer-centric solutions. The webinar will examine some of the key challenges that are blocking adoption of digital architecture by smallholder farmers. Attendees will learn a process for mapping their data needs, based on their goals and key tasks. Attendees will learn the foundational market model, and how to create value for success.

About the presenter: see Dan Berne‘s profile above.

Webinar 4. Data driven services for farmer led business.

Presenters: Chris Addison, Senior Programme Coordinator, CTA and Chipo Msengezi Project Coordinator, CTA.

Thursday 5 April, 4pm CEST
Duration: 1 hour, with 15 minutes for questions

“Data driven services for farmer led business”
presenters Chris Addison and Chipo Msengezi
Webinar held, watch the recording:

Data-driven services and products are coming to be seen as promising mechanisms that farmer organizations – cooperatives, associations, enterprises, etc. – can use to better serve the interests of their members. Data-driven services can be used for improved production, trade and market access or finance, among other uses on the value chain. This data can be in numerous forms – collected from the farmer, for the farmer, open or closed.

Farmer-representing organizations offer great opportunity to safeguard smallholder data, maximize returns in value chains, and best exploit the potential of third-party services and data offerings . This all relies heavily on efficient farmer profiling activities which will allow the farmer organizations to connect better with their members and deal with third party service provide.

About the presenters

Chris Addison is Senior Programme Coordinator for Data4Ag at CTA. The Data for Agriculture (Data4Ag) project focuses on data use to benefit smallholder farmers. Chris has worked in the ICT and knowledge management (KM) for development sector for the last 18 years and as director of the nonprofit One World Europe. He contributed to the OpenAire Open Data report as joint author of the Agriculture chapter. Whilst at IFPRI, he commissioned the conversion of the Global Hunger Index data to linked open data and is currently working on a project to publish the CTA archive as a linked open dataset.

Chipo Msengezi is Project Coordinator at CTA. She is responsible for the coordination of capacity development activities within the GODAN Action Project, which aims to strengthen data users, producers and intermediaries to engage effectively with open data and maximise its potential for impact in the agriculture. Chipo has worked in the ICT and knowledge management (KM) for development sector for over nine years conducting programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa to enhance capacity amongst the research and education communities in the latest information tools and advocate for the adoption of new technologies that drive development in Africa.

Webinar 5. Data Driven Mobile Applications

Presenter: Stephen Kalyesubula
Not live.
Duration: 40 minutes

“Data Driven Mobile Applications” –
presenter Stephen Kalyesubula
Webinar held, watch the recording:

Agriculture specialists are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to get detailed insights into farm operations and environment, making data-driven operational decisions to optimize yield and boost revenue while minimizing expenses, chances of crop failure, and environmental impacts.

Most Data Driven Mobile Apps (DDMAs) focus on improving agriculture supply chain integration and have a wide range of functions, such as providing market information, increasing access to extension services, and facilitating market links.
Users are also diverse, including farmers, produce buyers, cooperatives, input suppliers, content providers, and other stakeholders who demand useful, affordable services. These supply chain integration applications could provide significant economic and social benefits among them; creating jobs, adding value, reducing product losses, and making developing countries more globally competitive.

But the potential development impact of DDMAs mainly lies in their ability to provide access to useful, relevant information and services. This webinar is supported by GFAR-CTA-GODAN and focuses on the value of data driven mobile applications, main challenges with data driven mobile application, possible DDMAs, illustrations of some mobile applications, what CTA App database contains and lastly the data related questions.

About the presenter: see Stephen Kalyesubula‘s profile above.

Webinar 6. Data and Agri-food Systems: Past, Present and Future

Presenter: Ajit Maru
Thursday 10 May 2018, 2pm CEST

“Data and Agri-food Systems: Past, Present and Future” – presenter Ajit Maru
Webinar held, watch the video recording


Agriculture has always been data driven, i.e. data (and information) formed the basis for planning, cultivating and harvesting their farms and marketing their farming products.
Agricultural societies, with the mainstay of their economies being food production, developed their own data ecosystems to manage data around their most critical resources such as water and land. The need to organize the most effective use of their critical agricultural resources, these societies aggregated and organized as either Nation-states or City-states. The backbone of the governance of these societies was around the need to manage the data and information around resource use for food production that could be taxed and to forecast whether there would be enough to feed its people or there would be a surplus that could be used to gain even more resources such as through war.

In this Webinar, Ajit Maru proposes a framework of data ecosystems that forms, along with those for finance and movement of commodities, the supporting pillars of Agri-food systems. This framework has:

  • Policies related to the purpose of agriculture and Agri-food systems and in its support the data and information system to support this purpose
  • Strategies to realize the policy objectives
  • Supporting Institutions which includes:
    • Rules, Norms, Regulations and Regulatory mechanisms
    • Standards to collect, collate, store, communicate, process, analyze and interpret the data into information
    • Structures for policy making, implementing strategies, legislation and rule making, enforcement and regulation of rules and standards, development of standards and enabling sharing, exchange and use of data and information
  • Infrastructure such as for collection, collation and processing, communication, sharing and exchange of data and information
  • Capacities including human skills to generate, process, communicate and effectively use data and information.

He will illustrate and discuss the framework with examples such as of ancient Egypt, Intensification of farming in the last century and the “Amul” Dairy model in India developed in the 1970s.
His emphasis will be on data ecosystems that are now needed for the emerging globalized Agri-food systems where data and information in addition to being critical resources are also critical products. The efficiencies of future Agri-food systems will depend on their management of data and information. In the Webinar, he will propose and discuss models for developing data ecosystems that will support future Agri-food systems.

About the presenter

ajit Ajit Maru, Ph.D., grew up in Kenya, studied veterinary sciences in India and has served the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Dairy Development Board of India, International Service for National Agricultural Research, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research/FAO in his professional career spanning almost 40 years. He has contributed to several initiatives related to agricultural data and information management including CIARD and the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN). He now follows his life long interest in understanding and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. At the moment, in addition to advocacy on management and use of agricultural data, information and knowledge, he is supporting development of a platform to support smallholder farmers of Gujarat, India, in their farming and participation in markets

About the GFAR webinars

Our webinars are open to partners in GFAR as well as other nonprofit organisations or individuals working in the area of agriculture, ecosystems and sustainable development. They are attended by scientists, students, communications staff as well as agricultural practitioners.

The webinars present the work of GFAR partners and show how our partners are working together towards shared GFAR goals. If your organisation is not a GFAR partner yet, join now!

We do not ask for a webinar participation fee, but request all participants to actively engage in the online discussions during the webinars.

The webinars are moderated via BlueJeans, an online tool running within any internet browser. It only requires participants to have a good and reliable Internet connection and a computer running any browser.

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