What fair and smart data means for farmers

Solidaridad joins Maastricht University, Rabobank, BISCI, and Maastricht School of Management for the Fair and Smart Data (FSD) Spearhead, a transdisciplinary collaboration taking on real-world cases in the pursuit of sustainable development for all.

In the world of smallholder farmers, data does not play a major role yet. Smallholder farmers’ main concerns today are with their lack of physical control over their product and their disadvantageous position of regularly being the lowest value receiver in their commodity value chain. If data is already present in their ecosystem, it is often not used in a structured way, or is present primarily because of the demands of major actors higher up in the supply chain who collect data for their own purposes, with farmers sharing unknowingly, unwillingly or even forcibly. Solidaridad seeks to make the trade in data fairer and calls it Fairdata.


The concept of Fairdata is based on the following starting principles and hypotheses. 

  • Fairdata is the principle that any economic value in the widest sense arising from smallholder farmer data or data driven solutions should be for the benefit of smallholder farmers.
  • The principle of Fairdata is executed in multiple formats with the objective of exchanging data from smallholder farmers with actors in or surrounding supply chains and other stakeholders in a sustainable, fair and ethical way.
  • Fairdata is based on a common set of rules that defines ownership and rewards, terms and conditions, economic and privacy rights for smallholder farmer data.

This can revolutionize the way the internet works for smallholder farmers, providing them with their own data ecosystem, with its own economic benefit structure, potentially even with its own digital currency to allow for economic welfare distribution; a true antipode to global big data. It can also create a paradigm shift in the way consumers can connect with smallholder farmers.

The FSD Spearhead provides guidance and deep knowledge support towards further developing the overall Fairdata proposition. The programme contributes to detailing the hypotheses, adding research questions, validating the basic principles and combining academic insights with the development of practical solutions. In the FSD spearhead, the farmers ‘voice will be reflected by Solidaridad.  The partnership also embeds the vision of Rabobank into the process. This includes the opportunity to leverage ACORN’s carbon offsetting groundwork and proposition as an innovative expression of how fair value returns to smallholder farmers could work in practice.