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The Research Data Alliance (RDA) Improving Global Agricultural Data (IGAD) Community of Practice had their third annual meeting between June 21 and June 30, 2023. The meeting consisted of five sessions held virtually to allow members and interested attendees from all over the world to participate.

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR) hosted one of the two sessions on "Ethical and legal issues around agricultural data" on Monday 26 June at 17:00 - 18:30 CEST.  

This session featured three presentations and a discussion on the importance of creating an enabling environment for a fair data ecosystem for agriculture, starting with the importance of data governance for a sustainable and inclusive data ecosystem for smallholder farmers, illustrating the challenges of power imbalances in the use of agri-food data under a legal lens, and finally giving an example of a digital legal instrument to protect the rights to indigenous traditional knowledge.

There was also a summary from the session on the same theme held in the morning.

The recording is now available


Registration link:

Full program

Moderator; Valeria Pesce, GFAR

Marcus Schmidt
Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research, ZALF & Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, JKI
Summary of the morning session on the same topic.

Gerard Sylvester
Gerard Sylvester is investment officer for digital agriculture at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He is an expert in Digital for development, with a multidisciplinary skill set and over 15 years of experience in developing, implementing and evaluating development projects, for international organizations, focusing on the use of emerging technologies to address developmental challenges in agriculture. 

Presentation: Importance of data governance for smallholder farmers 
In order to increase smallholder farmers' productivity, profitability, and resilience in the face of global issues including climate change, population expansion, and food insecurity, data governance is crucial. If the challenges are addressed, huge potential and value could be built for agricultural stakeholders, including farmers, extension workers, researchers, policymakers, and commercial sector actors through building a data ecosystem. Public and commercial sector players must work together to utilize their individual capabilities and resources in order to form partnerships that can develop a sustainable and inclusive data ecosystem for smallholder farmers. Additionally, there is a need to increase capacities at many levels, from individual farmers to institutional actors, in order to improve their data and digital skills and competencies. Furthermore, there is a need for frameworks that can guide the design, implementation, and evaluation of data governance policies and practices that are context-specific and adaptive.

Jane Ezirigwe
Dr. Jane Ezirigwe is an Open AIR Postdoctoral Fellow on Global Data Governance for Food and Agriculture at the University of Ottawa.  She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Jane holds a PhD in law from the University of Cape Town and has over 18 years of experience in legal research,  legal advocacy, legal education, as well as in mobilizing and translating knowledge for wider usage. Her research interests are in the areas of food & agricultural law, international trade, and natural resource development.  She is also committed to mainstreaming gender in her research and is focused on using socio-legal methods to produce evidence-based research

Presentation: Power Contestations in the Use of Agri-Food Data: Towards a Sustainability Governance Approach 
Law is intrinsically embedded in politics. Background forces, norms, and rules can significantly impact whatever new rules we come up with. Therefore, we need to interrogate the spectrum of engagements of any given subject or phenomenon with the law. In the context of global governance of food and agricultural data, this presentation will examine how power manifests in the generation and use of agri-food data, how power could construct global rules on the use of agri-food data, and how the global community should respond to this realization. It will highlight the politics of technology and data, the increasing influence of private corporate power on global public rules, and how these drive inequalities and inequities among certain actors and groups, with intersectionality affecting some groups more than others. These insights make important contributions to the debate on the global governance of food and agricultural data, by contributing broadly to the academic discourse on the use of technology for development, and more narrowly, to the analytical frameworks on power and technology in the agri-food industry. It invites policymakers to recognize the unequal political economy within which the global governance of agri-food data is negotiated and offers some justifications on why, and how such an opportunity should be used to correct these imbalances and redistribute the benefits of agri-food data to all stakeholders. It further proffered a lens to the public to see trans-corporations as both economic and political actors that wield tremendous power and how they use this power to make private and public rules that impact development, food security, equality, and sustainability.

Dominik Bednarczyk
Dominik Bednarczyk is a Co-op student at McMaster University majoring in Biotechnology. He is building the framework for the World Data System – International Technology Office’s (WDS-ITO) Biodiversity Project. He researches and discusses the current climate of Biodiversity research and data collection. He is working with Maui Hudson and Local Contexts on the Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels. Before WDS-ITO he worked at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) studying chimney swifts, and Blanding’s turtles, performing biodiversity fieldwork, and community outreach.

Presentation: Biodiversity Metadata, Sustainability, and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in Agriculture
The Indigenous communities of North America revolutionized agriculture by practicing in such a way to maintain soil nutrition and balance with the surrounding biodiversity. ENRICH/ Local Contexts ( is an international initiative dedicated to addressing the critical issue of cultural and intellectual property rights pertaining to Indigenous communities in the digital landscape. Within this realm, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, and heritage are frequently exposed to the risks of misappropriation, misrepresentation, and unauthorized use. In response to these challenges, ENRICH/Local Contexts strives to advocate for the widespread adoption of Traditional Knowledge Labels (TK Labels) as a means of safeguarding Indigenous cultural protocols and rights associated with digital content. TK Labels play a pivotal role in providing comprehensive information about the appropriate utilization, attribution, and access restrictions surrounding Indigenous digital content. By incorporating TK Labels, ENRICH/Local Contexts ensures the preservation of Indigenous perspectives and values, which are integral to the representation and responsible usage of traditional knowledge. Significant progress has been made by developing an extensive array of labels that explicitly identify the incorporation of traditional knowledge in research endeavors. However, the integration of these labels into existing metadata standards remains a complex endeavor. The World Data System International Technology Office (WDS-ITO) is working with community partners to establish TK Labels as a universally recognized and standardized practice, which would enable comprehensive and accurate representation of traditional knowledge across diverse platforms. We are observing the current global biodiversity research and data collection landscape to inform collaboration facilitation between multiple data repositories and to ultimately create a united system for studying our environment from multiple research discipline perspectives. Additionally, streamlining current metadata standards will necessarily contribute to making research more accessible, respectful, and ethical in all fields. The TK labels are a start to actively engage Indigenous communities in decision-making processes and empower them to assert control over their cultural heritage in the digital sphere. In this presentation, I will present the current state of the project, upcoming milestones, and applications to the agriculture research and business sectors.

Discussion and Q&A