Harnessing the power of data to transform food systems

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Access to reliable data is crucial for decision-making on food systems, especially in the face of a changing global climate. CGIAR is committed to making its data as widely accessible as possible, recognizing the value of its research as a global public good. Open access databases have been developed across CGIAR over the past five decades, making important information public so that it can empower farmers, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to advance common goals. 

FishBase is one standout example of this. FishBase was first developed by CGIAR researchers at WorldFish in 1988 as a database on six diskettes and covering 200 species. It is now an online encyclopedia available in 14 languages, making available crucial information on more than 34,000 freshwater and marine species, and visited by more than 900,000 people each month. It is currently one of the most cited fish or fisheries resources in the world. 

The large amount of information (‘traits’) on most fish species that FishBase incorporates has enabled numerous meta-analyses – statistical analysis combining the results of multiple studies – on fish. FishBase also serves as a key data source for the management of fisheries and aquaculture in numerous countries, and the monitoring of their biodiversity. It is used in virtually all universities around the world to facilitate the teaching of ichthyology, fisheries management and aquatic/marine biology, as well as informing hundreds of research projects. WorldFish and partners are currently developing a nutrition potential model and a new ‘nutrient composition’ function to be included in FishBase to support addressing undernutrition by filling related data gaps.

FishBase is currently one of the most cited fish or fisheries resources in the world

The CCAFS-Climate data portal is another significant example of CGIAR data innovation, developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). It provides users with robust, high-resolution climate data that can help assess the impacts of climate change on agriculture. The portal offers researchers easy access to climate information formatted for use in agro-climatology, crop and livestock modeling, and ecology, aiming to increase understanding of climate change effects on the environment. These data are also useful for policymakers, NGOs and investors, as they can help them understand local climate change impacts and therefore make better decisions regarding adaptation measures at watershed, region, municipality and country levels.  

The CCAFS-Climate data portal is used by some 4,745 institutions from 180 countries

Since its creation, the portal has been visited more than 230,000 times with more than 1.4 million file downloads. Some 4,745 institutions from 180 countries have used the portal for a range of purposes. The number of referred publications using CCAFS-Climate data currently stands at over 700, including 40 book chapters, 100 reports and about 570 peer-reviewed articles. In 2019 alone, the CCAFS- Climate data portal was cited in 74 journal articles, and 203,802 files were downloaded from the portal (a 26% increase over 2018), containing downscaled Global Circulation Model data. The 17,252 total visits led to 59.72 TB of data downloads.  


Header photo: Taking measurements in Moung District, Cambodia. Photo by F. Llaurado/WorldFish.

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