Feb 23, 2023 | Blog

Data key for food systems transformation ahead of critical Stocktake moments

By Nixon Mageka Gecheo

Senior Program Officer – Digital Systems & Solutions for Agriculture|AGRA

This year marks the end of the first Global Stocktake, which began in 2021 to monitor the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and evaluate the collective progress made in achieving the agreed goals. The Global Stocktake links the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) with the main goals of the Paris Agreement, with the ultimate goal of raising climate ambition.

For farmers, the months to November, when the inaugural Stocktake concludes, come as a critical opportunity to present the final submissions to the Stocktake’s thematic areas of mitigation, adaptation and implementation, guided by their experience from working on the land.

The participation of farmers, and indeed other stakeholders in food systems, is instrumental in developing the data needed to progress the capacity to respond to change and identify the opportunities for improving resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Indeed, as climate change grows to become the biggest challenge that farmers in Africa and other developing regions have to grapple with, data will continue to increase in value as it provides the platform for the development of policies and infrastructure leading to sectoral transformation.

Marcella McClatchey, the Senior Program Officer for Inclusive Markets at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation properly summed it up at last year’s Africa’s Food Systems Summit (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda, when she said, “Data is the new oil”.

The value of data goes beyond Stocktake moments, noting that effective data systems can guide the responses for future events. These data systems, as per a report on Farmer-Centric Data Governance, launched during the AGRF, can be more efficient when designed in ways that build the trust and confidence of farmers. As such, it is instrumental that farmers are placed at the center of data models and programs that are deployed for their benefit. Farmers need education on the value of the data that they produce, and how it can be leveraged to support and improve their output and boost efficient use of their resources.

“We need to move beyond merely giving farmers information to advising on what to do with that information,” said Akintunde Akinwande, OCP Africa’s Head of Digital and Business Development for Nigeria and Middle Africa.

Going forward, and in the run-up to the Global Stocktake, and other similar activities across the year, including the 2023 Africa’s Food Systems Summit in Tanzania, and the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (CoP28) in the UAE, the following should be the priority actions to ensure that Africa’s farmers benefit from emerging data programs, models and systems. These actions emerged from the most recent Africa’s Food Systems convention:

  1. Promotion of shared data aggregation points through digital public infrastructure (DPI) model at country level – “Data being the new oil” also requires “an infrastructure” to exploit. Stakeholders must explore strategies for the development of shared data aggregation points at national level that combine the efforts of multiple stakeholders. It is necessary to explore how these DPI models can be led by governments but managed independently through multi-stakeholder trustee/custodian/steward approach.


  1. The development of user-centric models of data collection, storage and sharing that facilitate a collaborative approach to encourage farmers to participate – This will be driven by structures that allow a two-way flow of data and value to and from farmers. Value added data from the shared data aggregation point(s) must be shared with farmers for decision making, and farmers must be made to understand the value of their data and what benefits accrue from sharing it.

  1. Supporting a vibrant enabling environment, one inclusive of policy, partnership and capacity building, and which mobilizes the leadership needed to empower collective action – This will lead to the design of policies in a user-driven and consultative manner that responds to the needs of the beneficiaries. Targeted training, and capacity building for all stakeholders to promote an aligned and trusted multistakeholder approach to data management are required.

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