Agriculture is the principal component of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and is directly or indirectly linked to all the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The new estimate recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in their report, ‘The State of Food and Agriculture 2017,’ puts the number of chronically undernourished people in the world at 815 million. This shows that fulfilling the 2030 agenda depends mainly on activities related to sustainable development of agriculture, which achieve food and nutritional security of all the people in the world. The report stress that “investing in rural‑urban areas is key to ending hunger and poverty”.
We must be able to make informed decisions on agricultural investments, measuring the progress of their output and accurately judging the outcome of investments made. To end the hunger of this world, we need innovations in food systems and innovations can only happen when there is free access to data and information. Agricultural research for development has produced data and information which remains largely siloed. If we can make this knowledge available openly and in accessible formats for it to be shared for use and re-use, accelerated innovations can happen.
Policies should be in place to support various agricultural universities, higher education research and education institutes of agricultural sciences, and governments that encourage the development of next generation open knowledge systems in agriculture. By opening up access to publicly funded research outputs (e.g. seeds, planting materials, plant breeding enabling technologies) we can accelerate the development of climate resilient varieties, sustainable food systems, and knowledge products.
Currently, there are approximately 465 open access journals and 4834 datasets related to agriculture are available publicly. However, access to the enabling technologies is meagre due to various legal barriers. Opening up of access to agricultural research outputs is necessary for transforming the world to help alleviate poverty and hunger. So, let’s be open in order to achieve food and nutritional security and realize the ambitious vision outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
This post was written by Sridhar Gutam, Senior Scientist at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research.