At the kickoff of the G8 Open Data for Agriculture conference this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new virtual community to give increased public access to food, agriculture, and rural data.
“This new online community is a big step toward opening information for agriculture, making it public in useable formats,” said Vilsack. “This will increase the value of the investments U.S. taxpayers make in agricultural research, it will create a data ecosystem that will fuel economic growth, it will help drive that innovation to meet our global food challenge we all face.”
Vilsack explained that the virtual community for Food, Agriculture and Rural issue is located on the pre-existing data-sharing web site – www.data.gov – and it will now include data sets on topics such as agricultural research, or food and nutrition. Other G8 countries represented at the conference are also expected to make their ag data similarly available.
“Our hope is that the example that we set will encourage the nations that have been not as forthcoming to recognize it is in their best interest … to be part of this process,” Vilsack said.
While some countries like China are reluctant to share their data, World Bank Vice President Dr. Rachel Kyte noted that others suffer from data deficiencies. “Serious weaknesses in agricultural statistics persist,” said Kyte. “Only one in four African countries report basic crop production data.”
Vilsack pointed out that data “is among the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value. The Open Data Conference will continue through Tuesday, April 30.