Challenge to unleash power of open data to solve world hunger

Achieving universal food and nutrition security is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. Whilst this appears to be an achievable goal owing to the knowledge we have today about how to grow more food and eat more nutritious meals, ironically a preponderance of the nearly 800 million most hungry and malnourished people on earth are themselves farmers.

Alarmingly, a growing majority of those with easy access to food are for the first time in history both overweight and undernourished at the same time.

The Global Open Data For Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative, which works with over 330 partner organisations worldwide to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data globally available and unrestricted, launched the GODAN Open Data Challenge. Powered by Thought for Food and Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), the GODAN Open Data Challenge aims to uncover new, innovative ways to unleash the power of open data and solve specific challenges in agriculture and nutrition, to enable policy makers, farmers and the open data community to make significant steps forward in the release, management and use of open data.

Nearly 100 next gen innovators such as coders, students, designers, marketers, young entrepreneurs, open data enthusiasts, forward-thinkers, and curious minds, entered the challenge with their innovative product, service, program and policy change ideas. The challenge comprised of two tracks, both centered around availability and use of data, focusing on GODAN’s ambition to achieve world food security.

Track A: Policy Challenge, was aimed at researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, students, development practitioners or government officials interested in, and knowledgeable about, open data in agriculture and nutrition. In order to take part, all entrants had to design a policy or program for their country or organisation that would incentivize government and non-governmental agencies to better utilize, collect, and/or make more accessible open data and will positively impact one of the following two challenge themes:

  1. Agriculture: The lack of crowdsourced data from rural areas, especially as it relates to helping farmers make better decisions about inputs, pricing, and other factors related to agricultural production.
  2. Nutrition: The cost and difficulty of capturing and utilizing consumer open data about daily nutritional intake, with the goal of understanding nutritional risks, opportunities, and constraints.

The three selected finalists for the Policy Challenge are:

  • Agriculture Sector Data Coordination Policy
  • VARI
  • Agri-Commodity Bulletin

Track B: Open Data Maker’s Challenge is aimed at young entrepreneurs and students who are invited to create a prototype product or service that responds to one of five specific innovation areas, with the view to developing practical solutions that may allow us to better utilize, collect, and/or make more accessible open data to ultimately improve our food system. The three finalists for the Open Data Maker’s Challenge are:

  • AfriWeather
  • Vicity
  • Sow2Eat


The GODAN Open Data Challenge finalists will be awarded cash prizes, a ticket to GODAN Summit 2016 and access to the GODAN Mentoring Program, powered by Thought For Food. One lucky finalist will be selected to win a final cash prize of $5,000 in early 2017. Whilst the GODAN Open Data Challenge is now closed for 2016 submissions, innovators can still register to attend the Open Data Maker’s Hackathon until 29th August 2016. Taking place from 15th September at GODAN Summit 2016, the 32-hour event will provide an opportunity for young innovators to take a shot at forming a team, creating a solution and pitching it. Winning teams within this demonstration hackathon will receive cash prizes, mentorship, and the opportunity to participate in the grand finale of the GODAN Global Open Data Challenge.

All participants of the GODAN Open Data Hackathon will be granted free access to GODAN Summit 2016 which brings together high level world leaders, researchers, farmers, students and others – public, private and non-profit – including over 330 GODAN partners. These include Governments of the United States, Kenya, and the United Kingdom, ONE campaign, and Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH).

All partners will unite to collaborate on agriculture and nutrition data openness. An excellent networking opportunity, some of the other exciting features of GODAN Summit 2016, include game-changing speeches by world leaders and innovators, the celebration of the results from an open-data online revolution that was launched calling on international governments, the private sector and civil society to provide open data on agriculture and nutrition and end world hunger, and exhibits to showcase agriculture and nutritional data.

Andre Laperriere, spokesperson for GODAN, said: “Through the GODAN Open Data Challenge and Hackathon we strive to support a community of entrepreneurs and coders who are committed to solving long-standing problems and benefit farmers and the health of consumers.”

A rapidly growing initiative, GODAN is convinced that the solution to Zero Hunger lies within existing, but often unavailable, agriculture and nutrition data. GODAN’s goal is to make all agriculture and nutrition data open – available, accessible and usable – for better policy and decision making to ensure no one goes to bed hungry.

The Open Data Maker’s Hackathon begins on Thursday, 15th September 2016 at GODAN Summit 2016 at Hilton Midtown Hotel, New York. Innovators interested in participating can register here to receive a code allowing them free access. Spaces are limited so register soon.

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