Open data to boost Groundnut breeding initiatives: a testimony by Dr. Janila Pasupuleti
Groundnut is among the key grain legumes playing a vital role in enhancing human nutrition and farm biophysical features. Groundnut provides opportunities for smallholder and women farmers and boosts economies at the household and macro levels. However, agricultural institutions must continue to develop new varieties that meet the current and emerging market needs. More research is required to address aflatoxin contamination, enhanced yields, grain physicochemical properties and production technologies. This offers an opportunity for Open Data to further boost the research efforts of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and other research institutions to improve groundnut varieties and other dryland crops.
Creating open data greatly leverages the CGIAR’s mandate to create International Public Goods or “knowledge and technologies that are easily accessible, and have broad applicability across international boundaries” (CGIAR 2015). These public goods address global challenges confronting agricultural landscapes, including groundnut value chains. Therefore, access to one single platform to deposit data and materials from research work is essential. Accessing several platforms can be time-consuming for researchers, which may hinder their use of the data. Institutional support to host data and materials in a single platform saves valuable time and effort for researchers.
For groundnut and other crop research, there are diverse actors across the breeding pipeline. Each play a unique and valuable role in the development of open data. Crop breeders, statisticians, field workers, team researchers, donors, and management each contribute to the various steps of data creation and analysis, from planning to reporting. Therefore, in carrying out this mandate, there is a need for harmonized basic understanding of the project`s purpose and objectives across the data flow. This requires proactive multilateral communication across all levels, in order to ensure high quality, open data.
The MEL Platform addresses these management challenges by providing one organized space for project team members to plan, monitor, manage, report, and share activities. Through this dynamic platform, the MEL support team can also engage users to constantly learn best practices and incorporate feedback on functionalities and modules. This contributes to the system`s constant drive for innovation and improvement in catering to stakeholder needs.
As leader of the CRP-GLDC Flagship Program on Hybrid and Variety Development, I find the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Platform essential for open data collaboration for groundnut research across team leaders and centers. I use MEL to compile and digest reports from more than 20 activity leaders, across 8 institutions. This way, I can synthesize reports at the flagship level with MEL`s multi-level reporting, and archive features. Not only is the MEL Platform essential for collaboration, it works to enhance the visibility of our efforts to external stakeholders. The MEL Platform webpages have helped our team tell a credible story of groundnut variety improvement to the donors as they share regular updates on project activities, data, and disseminated knowledge.