Big Data (all over) Europe: an opportunity ahead for food & agriculture

BDE launch event

Is this the time for big data technologies to be streamlined in Europe? Are we going to see a wave of big data powered tools and applications in different application domains and industry sectors? This is the ambitious goal of the recently launched initiative Big Data Europe and its is a major opportunity (but also challenge) for the agri-food sector as well.



The European Commission decided to bring together some of the best European minds researching and developing big data technologies, and ask them to work with representatives of the six key Societal Challenges that Europe is facing (and the European Commission is channeling its funding towards) so that we explore the capabilities and limitations of existing technologies.… Click to read the full post

Agro-Know in GODAN 2015 Workshop & Future Food Hack


GODANGODAN (The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition) is an initiative which, as its name states pretty clearly, fosters global actions that create and share agricultural and nutritional open data. From its birth at the Open Government Partnership Summit, on October 2013, GODAN has undertaken the quest of formulating a “high- level” policy on open data. Being a mediator between current agriculture and open data activities, it has become a rally point for stake holders to gather and puzzle out long standing global problems. The realization that the absence of international policies and openness of data diminishes the effectiveness of research and innovation, prompted GODAN to generate a shared agenda with the intention to “increase the supply, quality and interoperability of data”.… Click to read the full post

Agro-Know joins the GODAN Workshop


GODANThe GODAN workshop, titled “Creating Impact with Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition“, will take place at Wageningen, Netherlands, between 19-20 of January 2015. The workshop is organised by the Open Data Institute in the UK in collaboration with the Dutch research institute Alterra and takes place in the premises of Wageningen University and Research Centre. The Workshop is hosted by the Dutch Government (Ministry of Economic Affairs) and is open to a broader public.

The Workshop will build on the 1st Global Consultation on Open Agricultural Knowledge for Development, which was held in Rome, Italy between 22-24 of April, 2014 and was a joint effort between two large networks activated in the same context; GODAN and CIARD (see our report here). … Click to read the full post

Takeaways from a meeting with a visionary


In July 2014, I visited Washington DC for a Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) meeting at the World Bank headquarters. I could spend a whole week at the United States so I took the opportunity in order to organise some further meetings in order to explore synergies and collaborations in the context of our SemaGrow project activities. I was trying to understand better the data problems and needs that organisations like the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have, when they are trying to put together large amounts of heterogeneous information in order to help their researchers do their job.… Click to read the full post

Opening up data for agriculture and nutrition: The GODAN initiative


agINFRA_logo_newOne of the hottest topics during the last years have been Open Data. Open Data is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development by improving the economic opportunities for farmers and the health of all consumers. There have been and still there are are numerous efforts in several sectors, which aim to open up existing data and ensure that future data will be published in an open and interoperable way.

There are several cases for the agricultural sector as well and the one that comes to my mind right now are the agINFRA and SemaGrow projects; the former aims to design the grid- and cloud-based infrastructure for facilitating the management and access to agricultural data of various types, as well as propose a linked open agricultural data framework for the publication of agricultural data as linked data (including data types such as bibliographic, educational, germplasm, soil data, etc.).… Click to read the full post

Open data on what people eat?

An example of an indicator: % of households in a country consuming iodised salt. Not much data there...

I received an interesting question from some good colleagues in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative: can we have access to data about what people eat? The question originally focused on whether there exists a central database and/or very large dataset (including multiple years/countries) capturing what people eat.  This means not just caloric consumption per person, but what they actually consume.  For example – today I have consumed a small apple, half small melon, 5 pieces bacon. This got me into a little bit of thinking: do we have access to such data? And from what type of sources?… Click to read the full post

Some thoughts on the joint CIARD/GODAN consultation meeting


CIARD-GODAN-consultationThe 1st joint CIARD/GODAN Consultation meeting took place between 22-24/4/2014 at the FAO Headquarters at Rome, Italy. This was an invitation-only meeting, aiming to bring together people from the CIARD initiative as well as the GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition) representatives in order to investigate the opportunities for close collaboration. In this context, having three members of the Agro-Know team participating (Nikos Manouselis, Effie Tsiflidou and me) was a significant privilege and we tried to make the most out of it.

In my opinion, one of the biggest success of the meeting was the fact that it managed to bring together so many policy and decision makers, initiative and community leaders etc., who sat at the same table and tried to explore  ways of collaboration between these two large-scale initiatives.… Click to read the full post

Open Access Progress and Promise in the CGIAR Consortium


CGIARA webinar on “Open Access Progress and Promise in the CGIAR Consortium” took place on 10th of April at 11:00am (CEST). The presentation delivered by Piers Bocock, Director of Knowledge Management and Communication at the CGIAR Consortium, provided an overview and update on the CGIAR Consortium’s progress in Open Access, including some of the challenges and opportunities of advocating for Open Access across the Consortium. Piers Bocock is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the Consortium’s Knowledge Management, Communications, and IT strategies, leveraging best practices in these disciplines to help the Consortium deliver on its mandate.… Click to read the full post

Short interview with Kerry Albright


Some months ago, I was closely following all activities related to the G8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture; in fact most of the AK team was excited to see the Conference’s activities and outcomes real-time – not only because two of our EU projects (agINFRA and SemaGrow) were mentioned as some of the most important ones and related to the scope of the Conference but because these were at the heart of what the AK team is actually doing. It was some time after that, when  I was introduced to Kerry Albright after my colleague Nikos Manouselis involved me in a GODAN-related series of emails.… Click to read the full post

Some thoughts on linking data sources


Agriculture and silos are two terms which play nice together, when referring to agricultural products; silos provide a nice mean of storing large volumes of harvested crops and provide a controlled environment for their post-harvesting management. However, when referring to agricultural data, one may safely claim that the data silos are dead. In fact, they exist but it is only a matter of time before they are either linked with existing backbones or they eventually disappear. Nikos Manouselis has already presented this “data silos” issue very nicely in a really interesting presentation – don’t you agree?



Let me express my personal experiences here: My first contact with EU funded educational and research projects was the Organic.Edunet eContentPlus project, which managed to create a network of content providers on organic agriculture, agroecology and other green topics.… Click to read the full post