Platform for Big Data in Agriculture

Transforming rural livelihoods with the power of information

Data has become a valuable global commodity. But it is much more than simply information: in expert hands, it is intelligence.

Already, analysts are finding ways to turn big data — the immense stocks of information collected in computers worldwide — into an invaluable resource for planning and decision-making. It is helping accelerate the development of robust responses to some of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change/variability, food insecurity and malnutrition, and environmental degradation. It is transforming the world of genomics and crop breeding and revolutionizing disciplines from climate modelling to agronomy. It is helping refine policies and improve lives.

The smart and effective use of data will be one of the most important tools for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Big data represents an unprecedented opportunity to find new ways of reducing hunger and poverty, by applying data-driven solutions to ongoing research for development impact.


Brian King

Brian King

Coordinator of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture

A platform to Organize, Convene, Inspire

CGIAR is uniquely positioned to be a thought leader on the use of big data and information technology in agriculture to drive equitable rural development.

The ultimate goal of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is to harness the capabilities of big data to accelerate and enhance the impact of international agricultural research. This 6-year platform (2017 – 2022) will provide global leadership in organizing open data, convening partners to develop innovative ideas, and demonstrating the power of big data analytics through inspiring projects.

Find out more about CGIAR’s Open Access Policy, ratified in late 2013 by all 15 CGIAR Research Centers.


Support and improve data generation, open access, and management

This platform will provide support to the CGIAR and partners to fully comply with open data / open access principles, to address technical and organizational challenges, and to enable researchers to strengthen data analytical capacity and develop practical, big data-driven use-cases in a coordinated way.


Collaborate and convene around big data and agricultural development

This platform will bring together big data practitioners, in partnership with global private sector brands, local upstart companies, universities, and others, in spaces that will encourage interaction and produce innovative new ideas to solve development problems.


Inspire others to use big data to deliver development impact

This platform will create opportunities for pilot projects that solve core development challenges and help scale them out. Using big data analytics and ICTs, we can provide unprecedented multi-disciplinary data to researchers, deliver information to farmers, monitor the state of agriculture and food security in real time, and inform critical national, regional and global policies and decisions.

A global partnership

The 15 CGIAR Research Centers and 12 Research Programs are partners in the Platform, alongside 47 external partners ranging international institutions, universities to private companies. They cover public to private, developing to developed country, and analytics to ICT deployment.

Amazon | Arizona State University | ASARECA | Battelle Memorial Institute | Bayes Impact | CABI-GODAN | CEO of Novogene Bioinformatics Technology Co. Ltd | Columbia University | CSIRO | Data-Pop Alliance | Disney Research | Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) | First Mile Geo | GBIF | GeoPoll | Global Crop Diversity Trust | Google | IBM | IIASA – King’s College London – McKinsey & Co. – Michigan State University – NIAB – Oak Ridge National Lab – Penn State University | Purdue | Rothamsted | Royal Holloway University of London | SpatialDev | Stanford University | SUPAGRO | UC Davis | UN Global Pulse | UNESCO-IHE | University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HEIG-VD) | University of Florida | University of Nebraska | WUR | World Bank, Agriculture.

Join us

The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is seeking ambitious partners in the public and private sectors with an interest in the potential of big data to accelerate and enhance the impact of international agricultural research.

We invite you to be part of this exciting initiative to solve core development challenges, climate-proof agricultural development, and ensure global food security.

Big data in action

Data-driven climate adaptation could revive rice yields in Colombia and beyond

Scientists at CIAT are applying big data tools to pinpoint strategies that work for small-scale farmers in a changing climate. In Colombia, they applied big data analytics to agricultural and weather records to solve the declining rice production puzzle. Their analysis revealed how climate variation impacts rice yields and allowed them to identify the most productive rice varieties and planting times for specific sites.

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The IMPACT model responds to increasingly complex policy questions

Using the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) model, IFPRI leads the global-scale analyses of food supply and demand, trade, prices, and food and water security with technology and global change scenarios at sub-national level. Model outputs provide foresights into the policies and actions needed to feed the world, reduce poverty, and protect the natural resource base.

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Genome editing in rice: As simple as cut and paste?

Genome editing is still in its infancy, but offers promising new ways to boost the productivity and nutritional value of food crops. It’s a technique that involves cutting, copying and pasting molecules in a plant’s genome sequence to change the plant’s characteristics. CIAT has been testing the technique with rice, using a technology called CRISPR, which has taken the world of molecular biology by storm since it came to light in 2012.

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More from the blog

CIAT Champion of Open Science: Leroy Mwanzia

Throughout his university studies at Africa Nazarene University, where he studied computer science (B.S. degree), Leroy Mwanzia focused on only one thing: software development. So great was his passion that, after graduating, he turned down a computer networking opportunity at East Africa Breweries Limited and instead opted to become a lecturer at an affiliate training center of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), a job that paid much less. Two years later, he went to a different college to teach the UK-based BTEC Higher National Diploma in Computing.

Digital extension – a hot topic for 2019

This webinar is intended to kick-start this new debate by walking participants through three of the most exciting/groundbreaking CGIAR initiatives. Guest speakers from CIMMYT, ICRISAT and IRRI will present and discuss how they are engaging with digital extension and share their perspectives and lessons learned for this emerging sector.

Origin of asymmetry: a webinar on the need for standards in data-driven services for agriculture

Last Friday 23rd of November, the CoP hosted the webinar called “Origin of asymmetry: a webinar on the need for standards in data-driven services for agriculture” tweaking the title of Muse’s famous album and in reference to the issue of asymmetry of information in the emerging market of digital services for agriculture. You can watch the recording of the webinar here.

The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is co-led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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