A Proposed “Agricultural Data Commons” in Support of Food Security

Baarbé, Jeremiah
Blom, Meghan
De Beer, Jeremy
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
This article identifies a data governance model that could help reduce dataset access inequities currently experienced by smallholder farmers in both developed-world and developing-world settings. Agricultural data is globally recognised for its importance in addressing food insecurity, with such data generated and used by a value chain of contributors, collectors, and users. Guided by the modified institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, our study considered the features of agricultural data as a “knowledge commons” resource. The study also looked at existing data collection modalities practiced by John Deere, Plantwise and Abalobi, and at the open data distribution modalities available under the Creative Commons and the Open Data Commons licensing frameworks. The study found that an “agricultural data commons” model could give greater agency to the smallholder farmers who contribute data. A model open data licence could be used by data collectors, supported by a certification mark and a dedicated public interest organisation. These features could engender an agricultural data commons that would be advantageous to the three key stakeholders in agricultural data: data contributors, who need engagement, privacy, control, and benefit-sharing; small and medium-sized-enterprise (SME) data collectors, who need sophisticated legal tools and an ability to brand their participation in opening data; and data users, who need open access.
agricultural data, open data, institutional analysis and development (IAD), knowledge commons, data commons, data collection, copyright, database rights, licensing, Creative Commons, Open Data Commons, privacy, benefit-sharing, social certification, certification marks
Baarbé, J., Blom, M., & De Beer, J. (2019). A proposed “agricultural data commons” in support of food security. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 23, 1–33. https://doi.org/10.23962/10539/27534