Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Series: CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture - Building a global agricultural data and open innovation ecosystem for impact

"Demand for data is increasing--and unmet—due to poor data access and fragmentation in the digital agriculture sector."

The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture leverages its global footprint, partner networks, and deep domain expertise to help the sector overcome these challenges, fostering new data-driven impact and innovations. Brian King and Medha Devare, leaders of the CGIAR Platform, will present an overview of its open tools, services, and approaches for helping the digital agriculture sector overcome its fragmentation and accelerate progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Robert Hijmans and Julian Ramirez will present use cases demonstrating the value and potential impact of these tools, services, and approaches. Robert will present work conducted with CGIAR colleagues to assess the profitability of fertilizer use in Africa, based on fertilizer response data for 760 locations retrieved from the Big Data Platform’s flagship data portal, GARDIAN. Julian will talk about his work using Collaborative GARDIAN Labs (CG Labs), an R and Python-based environment to find and securely exchange datasets, with interlinked features to collaborate, manage code, and analyze data.

The Platform is structured in three mutually-reinforcing modules: ORGANIZE, CONVENE, and INSPIRE.   

ORGANIZE focuses on the open standards, practices, services, and alliances for mobilizing CGIAR and partners’ data to accelerate data science in agricultural research. The module provides the public-goods data assets and analyses needed to support wider ecosystems of researchers, policymakers, development partners, and increasingly digital agriculture service providers to leverage big data capabilities and effectively negotiate the digital agriculture landscape for greater innovation and impact.

 The CONVENE module catalyzes strategic partnerships, co-learning, and exchange. Six vibrant Communities of Practice (3,500 total members, 80% of them external to CGIAR) serve as a key interface with global technical communities to set a common research agenda, and provide avenues for testing and adoption of digital innovations. The Platform’s annual Convention rotates between Africa, Asia, and Latin America to help build the alliances and regional ecosystem for data-driven agricultural impact.  

 The INSPIRE module leverages data--especially CGIAR data--and catalyzes new partnerships to source and foster digital innovations to accelerate research and delivery.

About the Presenters

Haishan Fu

Director, Development Data Group, The World Bank Group

Haishan Fu is the Director of the World Bank’s Development Data Group and Co-Chair of the Bank’s Development Data Council. In this capacity, Haishan leads and coordinates the development and implementation of the Bank’s development data agenda. She has been an active leader in the global statistical community, having served or currently serving as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, Council Member of the International Statistical Institute, and Co-Chair of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities among over 45 UN and other international development agencies, among others. Prior to joining the Bank in 2014, Haishan was Director of the Statistics Division at UNESCAP, served as the first Chief of Statistics of UNDP’s Human Development Report, and worked as Senior Research Associate at the Guttmacher Institute and Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Haishan holds a Ph.D. in Demography from Princeton University and a B.A. in Economics from Peking University.

Brian King

Coordinator, CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture

Brian King leads the Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, a global program of the CGIAR consortium centered on the digital transformation of food systems worldwide. He has led programs leveraging successive waves of transformational digital technologies, including establishing early internet networks and policies, building sustainable rural internet, licensing of mobile operators, governance of submarine cables and cross-border backbone networks, developing digital strategies for an array of clients, and building more inclusive mobile financial services, most of this in developing economies. Brian will speak to trends in digital agriculture innovation and concrete cases from developing economy contexts.

Medha Devare

Senior Research Fellow, Module Lead, CGIAR Big Data Platform; International Food Policy and Research Institute (IFPRI)

Medha Devare is an agronomist and microbial ecologist with experience in bioinformatics, data management, and semantic web standards. She is a Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI. She leads one of the three Modules of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, spearheading efforts to operationalize the FAIR Principles towards Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable data. Prior to this, she led the CGIAR System‘s Open Access and Open Data Initiative, and as a Scientist with CIMMYT, coordinated a project to increase the productivity and profitability of small farmers and the sustainability of farming systems in western Nepal. Before moving to CIMMYT, Medha worked at Cornell University, where she also received a PhD and helped develop VIVO, a semantic web application to represent research and scholarship.


Robert J. Hijmans

Professor, University of California, Davis

Robert Hijmans is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis. He received a PhD in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation from Wageningen University and has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, and South America. Robert uses spatial data science approaches to answer questions related to agricultural development, biodiversity, gender, nutrition, and health. He is also well-known for producing widely used spatial data and software.


Julian Ramirez

Senior Scientist on Climate Impacts & Leader, Data Science for Climate Action, CGIAR

Julian Ramirez is a Senior Scientist on Climate Impacts & Leader, Data Science for Climate Action, CIAT with a PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Leeds. Julian joined CIAT after a postdoctoral fellowship to lead research on climate impacts and adaptation. Julian’s research spans disciplines, including climate change adaptation, crop modeling, agro-meteorology, biodiversity conservation, and geographic information systems. Julian has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, including in high-impact journals such as PNAS and Nature. His work on climate adaptation has been internationally recognized by the United Nations. In the Alliance, Julian leads a team of young and talented researchers with expertise in agriculture, food systems and climate modeling, climate change, and geographic information systems. 

Holly Krambeck

Senior Economist, Development Data Group, The World Bank Group 

Holly Krambeck is a Program Manager in the World Bank's Development Economics Analytics and Tools team. She founded and leads the Development Data Partnership ( ) -- a partnership between international organizations and companies, created to facilitate the responsible use of third-party data in international development. Prior to her current assignment, she was a Task Team Leader, responsible for a $950 million portfolio of transportation infrastructure loans and technical assistance grants in East and Southeast Asia. Her technical assistance program helped transport agencies improve the efficiency and efficacy of their data collection, management, and analysis for decision making.

Parmesh Shah

Global Lead, Data-driven and Digital Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Parmesh Shah is the Global Lead for Data-Driven Digital Agriculture at the World Bank. He provides leadership to Bank’s work in these areas and supports the development of global knowledge and learning in these areas to offer solutions to clients and other development partners. His current areas of interest are economic and social organizations and networks of the poor, making markets and public services work for the poor, social entrepreneurship, digital and data-based innovations in agriculture and rural development, promotion of on-farm, and off-farm jobs and public-private and people partnerships for rural poverty reduction. He is currently involved in developing a regional program on scaling up digital agriculture in the Africa region involving setting up ecosystems for entrepreneurship and incubation. He holds a D Phil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and B-Tech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pantnagar in India.

Questions Submitted

jose luis

- Aug 2, 2022
muy bueno


- May 29, 2021


- Feb 12, 2021
great big data


- Jan 20, 2021


- Jan 12, 2021

Jared Troy

- Oct 29, 2020
Thank you.

Joy Mildred Adhiambo

- Sep 29, 2020
Building a global agricultural data and open innovation ecosystem for impact


- Sep 25, 2020
Appraising the Wider Economic Benefits of Transport Corridor Investments

Mohammad Nadir

- Sep 18, 2020
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