Rural Development
Developing Farmer-Centric Models of Data Governance
USAID; The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

About The Project

USAID and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned a report on Farmer-Centric Data Governance conducted under the Digital Frontiers mechanism managed by DAI. Athena Infonomics along with Development Gateway wrote this seminal report on Farmer-Centric Data Governance. The objective of this report is to showcase farmer-centric data governance models and the enabling factors needed for their implementation.

The Problem

Agriculture tech companies (ag-tech), heavily rely on farmers for their valuable data. These advanced technologies hold great potential for benefiting farmers, consumers, and the environment. However, the challenge arises as these companies wield significant control over the data gathered from farmers. Here lies the paradox: farmers find themselves not reaping the economic rewards from their own data. The looming risk involves the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of large agricultural and tech corporations, who hold power, controls resources, and manage the data.

For this reason, there is a pressing need to unpack data governance practices and challenges within the agriculture sector.

Who Is It For?

This report is tailored for policymakers, donors, companies, organizations developing and funding, and digital agriculture technologies.

About The Report

The Report, featuring six Deep Dives and nine Case Studies, presents user-centric data governance approaches that prioritize farmers and communities in data collection initiatives, aiming to mitigate the adverse impacts of centralized power. The insights, derived from literature review, interviews, and workshops, serve the following purposes:

  • Increase awareness about the existing political economy of agricultural data and its consequences;
  • Identify user-centric data governance models and mechanisms, with a focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs);
  • Illustrate the benefits, and challenges of these models for all stakeholders;
  • Develop actionable principles for user-centric data governance in the agricultural sector.

The report includes an innovative user map guiding donors and implementers on integrating equitable data governance into programs.


Farmer-Centric Data Governance: Towards A New Paradigm

The Data Governance Journey Map

Deep Dives

Deep Dive: Data Collaboratives

Deep Dive: Data Commons

Deep Dive: Data Cooperatives

Deep Dive: Data Fiduciary Models – Data Marketplaces

Deep Dive: Data Trusts

Deep Dive on Indigenous Data Sovereignty

Case Studies

Case Study: An Agricultural Data Cooperative for Farmers and Farmer Cooperatives

Case Study: Building a Neutral Account Aggregator Data Ecosystem for Smallholder Farmers

Case Study: Enabling Farmers with a Farmer-centric Transparent Supply Chain and Premiums

Case Study: Farmer Cooperatives in Uganda United in a Data Collaborative

Case Study: A Fertilizer Data Collaborative’s First Steps Towards Farmer-Centricity in Nigeria

Case Study: A Humanity-centric Journey Towards Digitally Empowered Fishers

Case Study: A Multi-centric Data Governance Approach to Secure Land for Cocoa Farmers

Case Study: Utilizing Supply Chains to Protect Coffee and Sacred Lands and to Sequester Carbon

Case Study: When Traditional Stewards of Lands and Forests Become Stewards of their Data

For more information or any questions regarding this work, please contact Shruti Viswanathan at