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New Initiatives Increase Access to Data to Promote Food Security

Access to open data can be a powerful resource for addressing food security and nutrition. Weather data from NASA satellites are already being used in drought forecasting programs such as the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, a collaborative activity funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development that provides early warning and vulnerability information on food security issues.  

To take advantage of the opportunity that expanding access to data provides, two U.S. Government initiatives, Feed the Future and the Open Data Policy are collaborating to make information generated and stored by the Federal Government more open and accessible to innovators and the public, to fuel entrepreneurship and economic growth while increasing government transparency and efficiency. Building on the Open Data Policy, the U.S. Government has launched a virtual Food, Agriculture, and Rural Community portal to help inform investment and policy strategies related to agricultural production, global food security, poverty, nutrition and human health, rural development, and many other issues.

The launch of this portal complements the global efforts by donors and partner countries to promote open data. Although the movement is still in its early stages, it received a significant boost last year in April during the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture in Washington, D.C., when G-8 members made a number of open data commitments that demonstrate both the scale and diversity of data that can advance agriculture across the world. During the conference, the United States committed to advancing efforts to open agriculture-related data from both the public and private sectors.

This week, the United States and the United Kingdom, along with numerous other partners, officially announced the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative, which supports global efforts to make data related to agriculture and nutrition accessible worldwide. The initiative focuses on building high-level policy and public and private institutional support for open data and brings together a wide variety of stakeholders to solve long-standing global problems.

In November 2013, the U.S. Department of State will host an Ideation Jam (brainstorming session) on postharvest loss, bringing together experts on food security, data experts, technology, and other stakeholders to discuss where technological interventions based on open data might lead to innovative solutions to address food security challenges. Together, with the help of public and private stakeholders, the U.S. Government is working to increase the supply, quality and exchange of data, alongside action to fuel entrepreneurship and innovation. 

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