ICRISAT at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture

Dr R Varshney making a presentation at the G-8 conference. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) delivered a presentation on “Open data in genomics and modern breeding for crop improvement” at the two-day conference on Open Data for Agriculture held at the World Bank in Washington on 29-30 April. He highlighted the work being done by ICRISAT, the Generation Challenge Program (GCP), and partner institutes in the area of Open Data in the context of genomics and modern breeding, underlining the perspectives, opportunities and challenges for global breeding in the next 10 years. The presentation was made available by the World Bank as an Open Webinar (Day-2 video, 30 April, http://goo.gl/ydYaj) and attracted many tweets in addition to good discussions in the conference. Dr Varshney also participated in a panel discussion on “What does Open Data look like?”

The conference was the result of a commitment made in 2012 by leaders of G-8 to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, wherein it was agreed to share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners. The conference was meant to develop options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to African farmers, researchers and policymakers.

Delivering their messages at the inaugural session of the conference were Mr Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture; Mr Bill Gates (by video); Ms Rachel Kyte, Vice President, World Bank; and Mr Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, White House. Secretary Vilsack defined open data as data that is freely available without restrictions and in formats that are readable not only by humans, but also by machines.

The conference was rich in content and had presentations and discussions on different open data initiatives, starting from the collection of African household data to the management of huge genome sequencing data. There was a general consensus on the need for data to be open not only through open licensing but also in a way that can be easily accessed by machine agents.

The conference organized by the Governments of USA and UK on behalf of G-8 countries, included official delegations from G-8 countries, stakeholders and subject experts.

Dr R Varshney as panelist during the conference. Photo: ICRISAT

Source: ICRISAT Happenings