Smallholder farmers play a key role in dealing with food security issues. They are responsible for 50% of the wheat production, 60% of the meat production and 75% of the dairy production in the world. The interesting thing is that, by 2020 one billion of these smallholder farmers will be connected to mobile internet. This prospect is very promising. Big data has the potential provide innovative and effective solutions and its use is rising quickly in the agricultural sector. The question is, how can we make smallholder farmers benefit from this data revolution?

The concept

Using (cellphone) data to provide commodity price information for smallholder farmers in Indonesia


The ‘What’s the price’ app was developed during the Data4Food Challenge, organized by the Centre for Innovation (Leiden University – The Hague Campus) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


With the rise of new technologies we are creating and accessing more data than ever before. It has been estimated that 90% of existing data was created in the last two years alone, and mobile phone access is increasing worldwide. Data are increasing in volume, quality, and sources: this is the data revolution. It is an unprecedented source of information for novel ideas, theories and strategies.

Efforts to ensure that this revolution is effectively mobilised have gained a prominent place in the international development agenda, particularly in light of the new Sustainable Development Goals set out for 2030. Knowledge derived from (big) data can enable public and private sector, academia, and civil society make more real-time and informed decisions.


In light of this, the Data4Food Initiative seeks to bring together bright minds that can drive the innovation that could change the way we feed the world. During the Data4Food Challenge in September 2015, multidisciplinary teams explored and developed the potential for data-driven innovation that can enhance food security in the light of the emergence of Big Data and related technologies.


Egon Hollands

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

data expert

Jorn Poldermans

Center for Innovation

project manager

Theo van de Sande

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

data expert and problem owner

Kimmo de Reuver

Het Proces

project manager

Kathleen Aberson

Het Proces

research and UX

Camille Clerx

Institute for Environmental Studies

research and testing

Maarten Thissen

Dutch Innovation Factory

software engineering supervisor

Zita Bernhoeft

Student Leiden University


Dominic Jahangier

Student The Hague University

software engineering

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