The Agro Hackathon in Montpellier and the work on a global map of data standards for food and agriculture

Agro Hackathon: discovering AgroPortla and AgroLD

GFAR has already worked in collaboration with other partners, especially FAO, on the facilitation of global directories of data relevant to food and agriculture (the CIARD RING directory of datasets, the AgriProfiles directory of experts and institutions, the FAO AIMS VEST Registry of vocabularies for exchanging agriculture-related data).
The need for a global “map” of standards in use for the exchange of food and agriculture data has recently come up again as a shared need in different contexts in which GFAR is involved:

    In August 2015, DFID published a tender for the Research and Capacity-Building Programme, specifically in support of GODAN. One of the focal areas identified by DFID in the tender is the area of standards, with special emphasis on the creation of “a global map of standards in use for the exchange of food and agriculture data”.
    GFAR participated in the writing of a proposal for this tender together with several other partners among which CTA, Wageningen Alterra, Open Data Institute, AgroKnow, Land Portal. The proposal was selected for funding.
    One of the first tasks on which GFAR has to work is the delivery of a "global map of standards for food and agriculture".
  • The Agricultural Data Interest Group (IGAD) of the Research Data Alliance (RDA)
    During the discussions on the creation of an "AgriSemantics" Working Group, one of the possible deliverables for such a WG was identified in a the “landscaping” of the current availability of standards.

In both contexts, some synergies were identified between the work on the FAO VEST Registry and the work that University of Montpellier and Stanford University are doing on the AgroPortal and it was agreed that the two platforms giving access to vocabularies in our area would benefit from some form of interaction / alignment and from being promoted together rather than in competition.
Regarding the similarities and overlaps between the VEST and the AgroPortal:

  • The VEST Registry managed by FAO OPCC on the AIMS platform ( is a catalog of existing standards covering all types of vocabularies in any format with a broad domain coverage: besides vocabularies used specifically for food and agriculture data, the directory includes generic vocabularies used for any type of data (from bibliographic resources to time series to soil data, germplasm data etc.) and vocabularies used in neighbouring disciplines (climate, environmant, geospatial...). The VEST is conceived as a metadata catalog, providing descriptions and categorization of standards and linking to the original website and original ser8ialization of the standard.
  • The AgroPortal ( is a repository of RDF ontologies in use in the domain of plant sciences. As a repository, the portal stores the actual RDF content of the ontologies and offers advanced functionalities for linking and using the vocabularies.

Since ontologies and RDF vocabularies in general are a subset of all the types of vocabularies used to exchange data, the scope of the AgroPortal partly overlaps with the scope of the VEST Registry. Due to the specialization of the AgroPortal on RDF vocabularies, the two platforms cannot be fully synchronized, but metadata about RDF ontologies is definitely in the scope of the VEST.
FAO OPCC, GFAR and AgroPortal agreed to start discussions and plan activities for achieving a better interaction and alignment between the platforms in order not to duplicate efforts and to provide a coherent and not fragmented interface for a “global map of standards”.
Agro Hackathon in Montpellier
The Agro Hackathon in Montpellier was organized by the University of Montpellier in collaboration with Stanford University with the objective of gathering new requirements and implementing new functionalities for the AgroPortal platform.
In light of the foreseen collaboration with the AgroPortal team on a global map of standards in either or both of the above projects, the purpose of my participation in the hackathon was coming to an agreement with the AgroPortal team on a few strategic directions:

  • To what extent was the AgroPortal team ready to broaden the scope of the portal
  • What the exact relationship and flow between the two portals should be
  • How much effort the Montpellier team could put in adjusting the system to our needs
  • How to align the two portals in terms of data models

© 2007 - 2020 Valeria Pesce
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