Patents give way to open access: get to know the open-source movement that will revolutionize agriculture

One of the key performance indicators most used in innovation is the number of patent applications in a period. With the collaborative economy on the rise in an increasingly connected world, there is countercurrent: the open-source movement.

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In agriculture, for example, it is not enough to have technology, you have to access up-to-date data and act on them. There are over 800 million people starving, while a third of the world’s food production is lost or wasted. Where did we go wrong?

For the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), information is lacking for small farmers. To address the problem, the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative was set up to make relevant data available online.

Many of these data are kept confidential by governments or are business-owned secrets. Even when stored in a simple format as PDF, it can bar anyone who does not know how to deal with the technology.

With weather forecast, farmers can make smarter decisions about when or what to plant. Connecting them to market price information helps them make better deals. It seems basic to a farmer in Europe, but for the one who lives in Africa, for example, it makes all the difference.

This is also the proposal of the US startup GivingGarden, providing data to farmers and sharing crop information with food banks. The biggest obstacle, however, is that the data exist, but companies protect and block their access.

The debate over the open-source movement is far from over, but the more companies that join the movement, the more we can provide and sustain food security for billions of people around the world.

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