Data is Key to Transforming Agriculture Sector in Countries

Reliable agricultural data is critical in planning, decision-making and informing actions aimed at transforming the agricultural sector in the country, Treasury cabinet secretary, Henry Rotich has said.

Speaking during the opening of the Ministerial Conference on Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Conference (GODAN), Rotich said the region was facing drought and food scarcity within the context of climate change, making it even more important for discussion on issues of data for decision making and action.

He said despite remarkable advancements in the sector, investments in technology, climate smart agriculture, data production and access by farmers remain a challenge.

Rotich, who was representing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the conference, further said that Kenya, as a country that depends on Agriculture, considers open data for agriculture, a critical component for its development agenda.

We firmly believe our entry into GODAN will enable us access important datasets being held by G7 countries that are critical for the informational aspects of our economy, he said.

GODAN initiatives support the sharing of data to make information about agriculture and nutrition available, accessible and usable to deal with urgent challenge of ensuring world food security.

Kenya joined the GODAN Community two years ago at the margins of the Finance for Development (FfD), in the run up to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Rotich said Kenya played a leading role in the development of the Agenda 2030 that seeks to end extreme poverty.

It is my hope that Countries, especially from the Global South will Join Kenya in ensuring benefit from this vibrant network, considering the ravages of human activity and nature demand smart solutions that are data driven to inform food production and resilience, Rotich said.

His Agriculture counterpart Willy Bett said to ensure food and nutrition security, data is required for information and action, and that this will work to achieve the SDGs and lift populations from poverty.

Creating a culture of usage of data for evidence-based decisions and empowering the people, especially on matters of food and nutrition, is no longer an issue of political-will, but a rational developmental choice, he said.

Bett noted that with the region experiencing severe drought and food shortages leading to displacements, malnutrition and deaths, agricultural growth and comprehensive food and nutrition security cannot be attained without increasing the resilience of vulnerable livelihoods to disasters and crises, which will be best managed through data.

He acknowledged that the use of data for decision making for Agricultural growth remains elusive partly because available data remains largely inaccessible to players across the Agricultural value chains, including farmers, processors, traders and consumers.

Data therefore needs to be open, accessible and usable and its availability must also be coupled by data literacy, if the data revolution is to leave no one behind, Bett said.

Kenya, the CS said, takes pride in championing open data for Agriculture and nutrition in the global south, which reaffirms the government’s commitment to strengthening international cooperation to address the persistent challenges related to sustainable Agriculture in developing countries.

Kenya is taking lead as requested by the GODAN Summit held in 2016, to increase access and use of such data by developing countries as a key resource in fulfilling their common visions of agricultural growth and transformation.

Titled ‘Catalyzing Agricultural Transformation for Inclusive Growth’ the GODAN summit that will run alongside the 4th Agritec Africa Exhibition will seek to harness the demographic dividend through investment in food and nutrition data.

Source: Kenya News Agency