A Data Commons for Food Security

In this paper my co-authors Jeremiah Baarbé, Meghan Blom and I propose a ‘data commons’, formed through a licensing model that allows farmers to benefit from the datasets to which they contribute.

Agricultural data is globally recognized for its importance in addressing food insecurity. This data is generated and used by a value chain of contributors, collectors, and consumers. Our licensing model addresses the crisis caused by a lack of data ownership rights for contributor farmers. Using the IAD framework we consider five case studies. These studies explore how John Deere, Plantwise, and Abalobi license data collection and how Creative Commons and the Open Data Commons license data distribution. Supported by an independent organization, our license supports SME data collectors, who need sophisticated legal tools; contributors, who need engagement, privacy, control, and benefit sharing; and consumers who need open access. Market forces encourage participation in the data commons by granting users the ability to display a social certification mark.

Our work was presented at several conferences and workshops, including the global conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons. The research was adapted, peer reviewed, and published in the African Journal of Information Communications (AJIC). The official version of our journal article is openly accessible on the journal’s homepage hosted by Wits University.

Suggested Citation (Working Paper): J. Baarbé, M. Blom, & J. de Beer, “A Data Commons for Food Security,” Open AIR Working Paper No. 7/17 (20 June 2017).

Suggested Citation (Journal Article): Baarbé, J., Blom, M., & De Beer, J. (2019). A proposed “agricultural data commons” in support of food security. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 23, 1–33. https://doi.org/10.17159/2077-7213/2019/n23a5.