Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Data and Agri-food Systems: Past, Present and Future

Event Date: 
May 10, 2018
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm CEST
Online Event
The Global Forum on Agricultural Research


Agriculture has always been data driven, i.e. data (and information) formed the basis for planning, cultivating and harvesting their farms and marketing their farming products. Agricultural societies, with the mainstay of their economies being food production, developed their own data ecosystems to manage data around their most critical resources such as water and land. The need to organize the most effective use of their critical agricultural resources, these societies aggregated and organized as either Nation-states or City-states. The backbone of the governance of these societies was around the need to manage the data and information around resource use for food production that could be taxed and to forecast whether there would be enough to feed its people or there would be a surplus that could be used to gain even more resources such as through war.

In this Webinar, Ajit Maru proposes a framework of data ecosystems that forms, along with those for finance and movement of commodities, the supporting pillars of Agri-food systems. This framework has:

  • Policies related to the purpose of agriculture and Agri-food systems and in its support the data and information system to support this purpose
  • Strategies to realize the policy objectives
  • Supporting Institutions which includes:
    • Rules, Norms, Regulations and Regulatory mechanisms
    • Standards to collect, collate, store, communicate, process, analyze and interpret the data into information
    • Structures for policy making, implementing strategies, legislation and rule making, enforcement and regulation of rules and standards, development of standards and enabling sharing, exchange and use of data and information
  • Infrastructure such as for collection, collation and processing, communication, sharing and exchange of data and information
  • Capacities including human skills to generate, process, communicate and effectively use data and information.

He will illustrate and discuss the framework with examples such as of ancient Egypt, Intensification of farming in the last century and the “Amul” Dairy model in India developed in the 1970s. His emphasis will be on data ecosystems that are now needed for the emerging globalized Agri-food systems where data and information in addition to being critical resources are also critical products. The efficiencies of future Agri-food systems will depend on their management of data and information. In the Webinar, he will propose and discuss models for developing data ecosystems that will support future Agri-food systems.


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