A farmer checking the agro-climate information sent to his phone via SMS, Sri Lanka. Photo by Samurdhi Ranasinghe/IWMI.

Open and FAIR data assets

Open and FAIR data assets

CGIAR adheres to the principle that the results of its research and development activities are international public goods. It is committed to their widespread dissemination and use to achieve the maximum impact to benefit the poor, especially smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries. CGIAR is, therefore, committed to sharing outputs of its research that are as open as possible and always Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR), advancing CGIAR’s aspirations to digital transformation and data-driven innovation.

CGIAR’s Platform for Big Data in Agriculture has been advancing awareness, tools, and open and FAIR data assets since its inception in 2017, helping CGIAR play a leadership role as agriculture becomes more digital. The Platform has also been instrumental in delivering the Open and FAIR Data Assets Policy, which the System Board approved in 2022. This policy replaces the Open Access and Data Management Policy and was consultatively drafted with engagement from CGIAR data managers and legal specialists. This new policy seeks to clarify expectations regarding the management and dissemination of data assets to ensure that they are as open as possible, always FAIR, and managed responsibly.

Open and FAIR data assets improve the speed, efficiency, and efficacy of research. They do the following to allow the global public to benefit from CGIAR research: facilitate interdisciplinary research and assist data aggregation, computation, and the derivation of new insights leveraging data science capabilities. The value of CGIAR’s FAIR data was demonstrated in 2021 by a group of researchers who used the Big Data Platform’s GARDIAN data ecosystem to access data for more than 12,000 trial observations from more than 760 locations. These scientists applied machine learning and crop models over these data to assess the profitability of fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa (Nature Food).

In 2021, the Platform developed the FAIRscribe tool, enabling “FAIRification” of legacy data assets to enable easier data aggregation and more such research demonstrating the impact of CGIAR data. It also continued efforts toward digital data collection of “born-FAIR” data by collaborating with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) scientists to build on their data collection protocols, creating a next-generation Agronomy Field Information Management System (AgroFIMS). GARDIAN offerings grew in 2021 as well, providing access to about 200,000 publications and 20,000 datasets, and more than 12 TB of geospatial data on global crop production and soils, and future climate, for querying and download by country or other administrative level, or a user-defined bounding box of geo-coordinates.

International Aid Transparency Initiative

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a voluntary, multistakeholder initiative dedicated to increasing the transparency of aid and development cooperation resources to improve their effectiveness in tackling poverty and other global challenges. IATI administers the IATI Standard, a harmonized set of guidelines that organizations and other stakeholders use to publish data on development and humanitarian spending and projects. IATI also maintains a Registry, a single point of access for data that organizations publish to the IATI Standard.

In January 2021, CGIAR began publishing high-level data on grants, such as the name of the donor, the value, key dates, and mapping to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The data are in the public domain, with much already published through the CGIAR Financial Dashboards at a high level. By making it available through IATI, it is more accessible, includes additional detail, and adheres to an international data standard that is used by comparable organizations.

In 2021, CGIAR maintained a monthly publication cadence, publishing close to 4,000 projects. According to IATI’s publishing statistics, CGIAR achieved 100% for its timeliness rating and 81% for its comprehensiveness rating in 2021. CGIAR currently does not publish budget data, which impacted the forward-looking score. However, CGIAR’s goal is to expand the overall scope and depth of CGIAR data published via IATI in 2022, including more forward-looking information. CGIAR is also working to add indicator data, result data, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Rio Climate Markers to enhance its IATI data.

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