Using Data to Enhance Food Productivity in Subsistence Farming

Food Security
Friday, February 12, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marshall Ballroom North (Marriott Wardman Park)
Poor countries around the world depend on subsistence farming for the bulk of their calories. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, however, low-yield agriculture prevails and improvements in food production are stagnant. Fast-growing populations, increasing urbanization and consumer demand, and challenges presented by climate change further strain agricultural resources. Improving smallholder livelihoods through sustainable intensification depends on many factors: an ecosystem approach to natural resource and farm management; improved crop varieties through plant breeding; innovations in farming; knowledge generation and sharing; and equitable access to markets. While a ‘data revolution’ for Africa has been proposed to fill critical knowledge gaps that policymakers ultimately depend upon, smallholder farmers and their communities cannot wait for ‘good’ data. A growing community of scientists is mobilizing to meet this challenge by combining alternative data generating methods (i.e., those made possible through publicly available global datasets), geo-referenced household surveys, remote sensing satellite imagery, geographic information systems, and computer modeling. By taking advantage of this global knowledge á la carte, and exchanging information across borders by using free, harmonized datasets that span different scales, geographies, and disciplines, science can begin to inform the future of farming.
Cindy Cox, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Jawoo Koo, IFPRI
Jawoo Koo, IFPRI
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