Open Harvest 2016 : Release of the Chania declaration

Open Harvest 2016 was held on the 18th to the 21st of May 2016 in the City of Chania, Greece. This blog provides a summary of this event.

The major aim of this first meeting was to reach an agreement, define the process, and specifying the different components of a 10 year roadmap for an open, shared, distributed data infrastructure for agriculture and food.

The development of this roadmap was critical for this meeting as it will be linked to opportunities to finance its development ( and eventually, its implementation) by major funding agencies and donors.

Structure of the Open Harvest 2016 .

The meeting was comprised of invited selected participants who were organized into three working groups. These were

  1. the Working Group on Ontologies and Semantics Services which was co-coordinated by Caterina Carraciolo from FAO and Sophie Aubin from INRA,
  2. the Working Group on Search, Discovery Services and Applications which was co-cordinated by Fabrizio Celli from FAO and Michael Devlin, and lastly
  3. the Working Group on Data Aggregation and related backbone services,  which was coordinated by Valeria Pesce from GFAR/FAO and Christopher Brewster from TNO.

In preparation for the discussions during the workshop, key documents were circulated to the participants and some questions to guide the deliberations. The programme was structured in a way that participants will break out into respective Working Groups - of which they were pre-assigned- and then prepare a pre-report to the plenary.

There were 3 breakout sessions on Wednesday and 1 on Thursday -  in all these the respective coordinators reported to plenary. These respective WG reports are to be synthesized into an overall story to meet the aims and goals of this workshop.

Open Workshop Day 

On Friday the 20th of May  2016, there was a full day workshop which saw a number of projects being presented.  This session was supported by ARIANDE Foundation.

A number of open data projects were presented. These included GODAN Initiative, which was presented by Johannes Keizer from the Food and Agriculture Organization, while GODIVAN project was presented by Rob Lokers, from Wageningen University.

Browse some presentation tweets #openharvest16

The CHANIA Declaration

The major outcome for this workshop was the CHANIA Declaration where the participants affirmed their commitment to strengthen their collaboration through building a common roadmap for the infrastructure elements needed in the agricultural sector

The full declation can be read here 

The text is reproduced below

We the signatories of this declaration have come together at the “Open Harvest” event, to collaborate in developing a vision for e-infrastructures for agricultural research, extension and development. 

We seek to catalyze creation of a powerful ecosystem of linked data repositories, data management services and virtual collaboration environments to increase the pace of knowledge production for agricultural innovation.

We agree to strengthen our collaboration through building a common roadmap for the infrastructure elements our sector so desperately needs.   As we define infrastructure we consider every element that is needed to achieve our goals: physical structures; software; standards; and procedures. First of all we need to support collaboration. This means nurturing relationships that represent truly international perspectives and include both the public and private sector in partnerships.

To pursue these goals

We will present our plans to the framework of the European Horizon 2020 program and we will seek funding through this mechanism. We will work with donors to enable discussions with us to build coordinated effort and avoid duplication.

We recognize the importance of enhancing existing semantic standards and we encourage the initiatives behind GACS (Global Agricultural Concept Scheme) and Agroportal to continue to develop these services of vocabularies and ontologies into a coherent platform for agricultural semantics.

We see the value of existing information systems for agricultural science and technology information such as “AGRIS” and “CAB Abstracts” in exploring collaboration to achieve more comprehensive access to agricultural research and technology information, including but not limited to bibliographical data. We strongly encourage FAO to continue to invest in and support AGRIS as the largest freely accessible system in the field.

We applaud plans by the CGIAR to build a cross-disciplinary big data platform. The CGIAR platform will be a cornerstone of a common e-infrastructure and we encourage the CGIAR to move ahead with this plan and to share stories of how it is achieving impact as they emerge.

We appreciate the constant support that is given by the GODAN (Global Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition) Secretariat to our initiatives. We consider GODAN as our voice for the advocacy of open data worldwide.

The Interest Group on Agricultural Data of the RDA initiative is an important element of our collaborative structure. Furthermore, we will set up an informal “Open Harvest working group” to facilitate global collaboration in a broader context.  We agree to use existing conferences and gatherings to continue this debate and we will organize a follow up “Open Harvest” meeting in 2017 to discuss the progress made.

We sign this declaration in our personal capacity, but we commit to continue to engage through our own organizations to get support for the development of these projects and others conducted in common.

In Chania, 19.05.2016


Sophie Aubin (INRA)

Elizabeth Arnaud (Bioversity International – CGIAR)

Thomas Baker (Independent)

Patricia Bertin (EMBRAPA)

Christopher Brewster (TNO)

Caterina Caracciolo (GAGS working group)

Fabrizio Celli (consultant)

Michael Devlin (Science for Development Platform)

Christine Geith (eXtension)

Odile Hologne (INRA)

Ilkay Holt (Ozyegin University)

Johannes Keizer (FAO of the United Nations)

Rob Lokers (WUR Alterra)

Devika Madalli (ISI/DRTC)

Nikos Manouselis (Agroknow)

Laura Meggiolaro (Land Portal)

Graham Mullier (Syngenta)

Martin Parr (GODAN Sec.)

Valeria Pesce  (GFAR)

Martin Parr (GODAN Sec.)

Philip Roberts (CABI)

Armando Stellato (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

Giannis Stoitsis (Agroknow)

Imma Subirats (FAO of the UN)

Ferdinando Villa (Basque Centre for the Climate Change)

Download the PDF version here