Nabard signs MoU with UNDP to jointly create data-driven innovations

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly create knowledge-based innovations in agriculture and food systems to support smallholder farmers. Under this MoU, both organizations aim to improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers by sharing open source data for product development, technology transfer  and agricultural policy.  Nabard Director General Sanjeev Rohilla and UNDP Deputy Director Isabelle Tschan signed the agreement on Tuesday. 

 Information sources 

  This repository receives information from UNDP, ICAR, ICRISAT, India Information Portal, Agricultural Universities, Banks and Business Correspondents Network. Nabard  also sources data from research institutes like Bloomberg, Nexensus, IndiaStats and CMIE. All  data from these sources will be used and converted into dashboards and reports not only for Nabard’s internal use  but for the entire ecosystem. This repository will enable people to access information in an open environment, he said, adding that it will be a central point of information related to agriculture. Referring to the vision of Nabard chairman Shaji KV,  he said the vision is to use data to inform and make informed decisions. This data repository was started by Shaji one and a half years ago.  


  This partnership with UNDP includes the improvement and dissemination of digital public goods such as DiCRA (Data for Climate Resilient Agriculture). DiCRA is an open innovation (open source) digital public good that provides satellite data and analysis to advance data-driven decision making for agricultural climate action.  Started in Telangana, DiCRA  now operates in Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Telangana. Rohilla said there are plans  to cover the entire country through DiCRA.  Noting that the Indian farmer has little or marginal information on weather forecasts for the upcoming crop seasons, he said weather  data is one of the most critical missing links. Near real-time and high-resolution satellite data, automated data feeds, advanced analytics with machine learning and artificial intelligence – DiCRA adds value to Nabard’s policy framework. Data related to biomass, thermal maps, soil conditions, etc. can revolutionize the political framework if  shared as a public good. On the reasons why Nabard collaborated with UNDP on this project, he said that the collaboration is divorced from Shaji’s vision of creating open source information flows for the entire sector. He said the MoU will help create a  source of rich data sets at the national level on climate change resilience. The data will enable Nabard for Climate Change Adaptation Fund and  Direct Access Entity for Green Climate Fund to assess and develop country-level climate change resilience projects. This information allows regional scale climate maps to be made. On DiCRA’s role in facilitating long-term agricultural investment, he said DiCRA is guided by the digital public good principles of open access, open software, open code and open APIs. “In all our activities with the agritech sector, the availability of such software and data has become a difficulty. The open source nature of DiCRA therefore makes it a huge opportunity for agricultural technology. 

 More than 100 data scientists contribute to the DiCRA platform for good. It has proven scalability and serves climate action across large geographical areas in India.  He said DiCRA can be used to plan and prioritize villages  highly vulnerable to climate change and promote cross-learning between villages that are resilient to climate change. Rohilla said that this partnership between UNDP and Nabard on data innovation can boost the culture and capabilities of data-driven decision-making not only in Nabard but across the Indian agricultural ecosystem  such as at the policy, program and program levels. at the grassroots level putting these tools directly into the hands of farmers.

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