Our Work

Initiative for Open Ag Funding : Overview

Initiative for Open Ag Funding

Led by InterAction, the Initiative for Open Agriculture Funding supports efforts to end hunger and food insecurity by ensuring organizations have the timely, comprehensive, and comparable information they need to make smarter agricultural investments.

Organizations need various types of data to make better decisions, especially when designing a program, coordinating with other implementers, or looking for trusted partners with whom to work. Often, organizations find that the simplest questions can be the hardest to answer – “who is doing what, where, with whom, and to what effect?”

To help answer those questions more efficiently, Open Ag Funding partners provide donors, implementing partners, and other data publishers with technical assistance and tools to produce better quality data using a common language — the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data standard. We also work with data users to understand their needs and provide them with tools to leverage IATI data for more effective decision-making. 


What’s the problem?

Food insecurity and hunger constitute some of the world’s most pressing development needs. Although progress is being made, almost 800 million people worldwide still suffer from hunger.

Investments in agriculture are critical to improving food security and nutrition and to reducing poverty. However, in order to make the most effective investment decisions, organizations must have access to timely, comprehensive, and comparable information on what others are doing in the sector. For example, knowing what crops or value chains others are working with in a certain district or region allows organizations to invest in other crops or regions for a greater impact or find areas for collaboration with existing programs.

Today, such information is either unavailable, of poor quality, or not comparable due to differing data or coding standards. Without this data, organizations struggle to identify where their resources can make the most difference, miss opportunities for collaboration, duplicate efforts, or even replicate unsuccessful program approaches. Simply put, without a clearer and more reliable picture of agricultural investments worldwide, the billions of dollars invested in agriculture each year might not be reaching their full potential.

What kind of data are you trying to improve?

We are trying to improve the quality, availability, and timeliness of data on investments in agriculture and food security.

To start, we use the terms “agriculture” and “food security” broadly. They are meant to capture investments in agriculture, forestry and fishery, and food security-related sectors, such as food aid. Nutrition is included only to the extent to which interventions falling under the sectors listed above are nutrition-sensitive.

By investment data, we are referring to project-level data containing details such as the investment amount, the crops or value chains being focused on, the subnational location of the project, the local implementing partners, and much more. In essence, it is data that seeks to answer: who is doing what, where, with whom, and to what effect?

This project is focused on data on investments from bilateral and multilateral donors, NGOs, and foundations. While important, data on investments from national governments and the private sector is outside the scope of this project, as is contextual data, such as soil quality, market prices, weather patterns, etc.

What is IATI?

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparency of aid, development, and humanitarian resources in order to increase their effectiveness in the fight against poverty. Bringing together donor and recipient countries, civil society organizations, and other experts in aid information, IATI provides a format and framework for organizations to publish data on development activities.

This framework, known as the IATI Standard, is an open, common data reporting standard that allows organizations to share and use comparable, comprehensive, and timely data. Designed in consultation with key stakeholders in developing countries, the IATI Standard has been adopted by many different data users, including government donors, national and international NGOs, and private sector actors.

Since 2011, more than 450 organizations have published data to IATI. This includes most major bilateral and multilateral donors. Organizations independently publish and maintain their data according to the IATI Standard, usually on their own websites or pubic data repositories. Organizations then link their data sets to the IATI Registry, enabling others to easily locate and use it. IATI provides a number of tools and resources to publish, validate, and use IATI data.

Why is this initiative focused on improving IATI data?

IATI provides the best framework for publishing comprehensive and timely information on development resources.  In essence, by focusing on improving IATI data, we can get “the most bang for our buck” in our mission to ensure that the landscape of agricultural investment data meets the needs of those working in the sector.

Moreover, many donors, NGOs, and private sector actors are already publishing data using the IATI Standard. All in all, the framework for quality data exists, we just want to make sure it works for, and is used by, those in the agriculture and food security sector.

How will this initiative improve data?

After consulting with donors, foundations, and NGOs, Open Ag Funding partners found that most organizations have very similar information and data needs. These needs can be summarized into four themes: sub-national locations, granular classifications, participating organizations, and results. We are now working to improve data by providing donors, implementing partners, and other data publishers with technical assistance and tools to produce better quality data within each theme. A few of the tools we are currently developing can be seen below.

Sub-National Location

Where exactly are projects being implemented?

Open Ag Funding is developing a automated geo-coder that improves location specificity by allowing publishers to generate and validate a set subnational locations. The tool will ingest project documents, identify the relevant regions, districts, or cities, and then add them to the activity record.

Granular Classifications

What crops/value chains are others working in?

Open Ag Funding is building an automated classifier  that allows data publishers to tag projects with more granular classifications more easily than is possible with manual coding. The tool will ingest project documents and then tag activity records with granular, sector-specific code-lists and classifications.

Participating Organizations

Who is funding, implementing, or partnering on a particular project?

Open Ag Funding is working with organizations to help them publish better data on which partners they work with. This will allow others to easily find partners as well as link investments and activities in the aid delivery chain.


What have past and present projects achieved?

Open Ag Funding is working with donors and implementing organizations to help them publish more meaningful results data in the IATI format to promote transparency, accountability, and shared learning.

InterAction Project Staff:

Ben Bestor| Senior Program Associate (email)