WASHINGTON, April 25, 2013 – Agricultural leaders from the G-8 countries will begin a two-day conference in Washington on Monday to discuss policies for online global platforms that share data from publicly funded agricultural research.

USDA Chief Scientist Dr. Catherine Woteki said the conference will bring together innovators from all over the world to discuss the importance of open agricultural data to increased food security across the globe, as well as in opening doors for public/private partnerships and economic growth.

"Taking data that taxpayers have already funded and making it public in useable formats will fuel economic growth and help drive the agricultural innovation needed to meet our global food security challenges,” she said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will head the United States government delegation and Woteki will act as alternate head of delegation and provide scientific guidance.

At the 2012 G-8 Summit, G-8 leaders committed to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, part of a shared commitment to achieving global food security. 

As part of this commitment, they agreed to “share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture, to develop options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to African farmers, researchers and policymakers, taking into account existing agricultural data systems.”

“By sharing data and the tools to analyze it, people can develop new insights and applications to help themselves. For agriculture, shared research can move us all closer to addressing the global food demands on the horizon,” Woteki wrote in a USDA blog.

During a call with reporters Thursday, she said, “We believe it’s not going to be only those people with computers that are going to benefit, it’s also going to benefit farmers with cell phones,” adding that many farmers in the rural areas of Africa use cell phones that could access the data platform. 

In addition to discussing the open portal for agricultural, natural resource and production data, the conference attendees will also highlight data analysis tools that should be available in the new system.

The G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture takes place April 29-30, 2013.


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