I had the privilege of representing the Land Portal Foundation at the FAO Expert consultation on “Knowledge sharing for agricultural innovations applicable for smallholders and family farmers in Europe and Central Asia”, which took place in Gödöllő (Hungary) from the 10-13 September 2018.
This consultation comes after two major calls for FAO to support Agricultural Innovations Systems (AIS) and develop capacities in Europe and Central Asia. The first was the 39th session of the European Commission of Agriculture (ECA) and the 41st session of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe (ERC), which urged FAO to continue its efforts on knowledge sharing on policies and good practices.
I had the opportunity to share my experiences working with the Land Portal Foundation and how Open Data, Linked Open Data, interoperability and the creation of controlled vocabularies, such as LandVoc (which the Land Portal facilitates), can benefit smallholders and family farmers. I argued that the primary objectives of the consultation, which included elaborating and validating criteria for selection and data management of agricultural innovation, as well as identifying and discussing relevant knowledge sharing platforms, match our own experiences.
Let me explain why I believe this is the case. Using structured information and communication technology (ICT) in extension systems helps to enhance decision-making capabilities of smallholder farmers. A variety of research has demonstrated better decision-making aptitude across the agricultural supply chain for those who have been able to take advantage of enhanced information systems. This can help farmers in many ways, from not only planning their production systems and post-harvest strategies, but also in establishing and protecting their land rights.
In fact, there are a myriad of benefits of sharing knowledge that can help smallholder farmers, from better decision making to opening the way for collaboration. At the Land Portal, we believe that access to and use of data leads to improved land governance.
During this conference, we heard from a variety of experts. During the session on “Relevant platforms and networks,” the objective of which was to present a variety of different platforms and to identify which regional needs and challenges these platforms could address, as well as what gaps remain unaddressed, I presented the functionalities of the Land Portal and its relevance to the region. I am convinced that that using open data holds great promise for smallholders and family farmers in Europe and Central Asia. Open Data, Linked Open Data, Semantic Web technologies and interoperability are all tools that are part of the solution for ensuring long-term global food security, rural poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this event, and offer a special thanks to field organizers. We are eager to keep learning and sharing our knowledge on this topic!