“There is no greater feeling than being at the right time at the right place to dare outline the trends of the future agriculture that we need to start strengthening as of today,” said Daniel Jiménez, CIAT’s Data and agronomy scientist, to define his experience participating in the Information and Communication Technology for Agriculture (ICTforAg 2016) Conference carried out in Washington D.C.
The event was organized by international NGO FHI360 and focused in finding answers to the challenges that smallholder farmers and value chain stakeholders face daily regarding innovation adoption, entrepreneurship and income diversification, comprehensive value chain improvement, data collection, evidenced-based decision and policy analysis, and integrated digital financial services.
Daniel was the Latin voice responsible for delivering the closing keynote address regarding Big Data, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and a new A-geek-ulture as current trends in agricultural research that speed up the development of concrete solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the agriculture sector nowadays: climate change, food insecurity, malnutrition, and environmental degradation, which are also covered in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
Big data is an umbrella term used to characterize the growing amounts of data that may be analyzed to reveal insights that were previously unknown. To use and read between the lines the richness of this information, the so-called A-geek-ulture has emerged to enable researchers with an unusual interest in statistics and new technology, to complement traditional agricultural research by using tools such as ICTs.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CIAT believe in the potential of Big Data, and have proposed the launch of a global platform to support and improve data production, access, and management within the CGIAR System; collaborate and meet around Big Data and agricultural development, and lead and inspire by example through its contributions to various of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
A message that reaffirmed the remarks by Debisi Araba, CIAT´s new Regional Director for Africa, who delivered the welcome speech and shared with the audience the main lessons learned from his experience in his home country Nigeria as a technical advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, using low-cost ICTs as a strategy to contribute to developing tailor-made solutions for more than 14 million smallholder farmers, as well as to designing climate-smart agriculture (CSA) strategies.
“Our commitment at the CGIAR System level is to democratize these tools to facilitate equal access for everyone, not only large-scale farmers but also smallholder farmers, so that researchers can have more opportunities to develop strategies and solutions better tailored to the specific needs of each producer,” says Daniel, as he faces a climate-smart agriculture revolution. A new revolution driven by ICTs and Big Data, where researchers are also drawing to key partners such as site-specific agriculture.
His presentation was followed immediately by comments from the audience, which could not have been more positive in the face of the huge development possibilities brought by this comprehensive overview of current technology trends in support of the agriculture sector, thus enabling a small-scale user-oriented research to complement the traditional agricultural research approach.
Authors of this post:
Data and agronomy scientist, CIAT
Communications Liaison to the Office of the Director General, CIAT