The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-create data-driven innovations in agriculture and food systems to support smallholder farmers.

Under this MoU, both organisations will work to improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers by sharing open-source data for product development, transfer of technology and supporting the framing of agrarian policies.  

Sanjeev Rohilla, Chief General Manager of Nabard, and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Isabelle Tschan, signed the agreement on Tuesday.

Speaking to businessline after signing the agreement, Rohilla said Nabard is building a data warehouse for the country.

Data sources

This data warehouse will be getting data from UNDP, ICAR, ICRISAT, India Data Portal, agri universities, banks and business correspondent (BC) network. Nabard is also sourcing data from research houses such as Bloomberg, Nexensus, IndiaStats and CMIE. All the data from these sources is going to be ingested and turned into dashboards and reports not just for internal use in Nabard but by the entire ecosystem, he said.

Stating that this data warehouse will enable a person to access the data in an open environment, he said this will a one-stop shop for agriculture related data.

Referring to the vision of Shaji KV, Chairman of Nabard, he said the vision is to use data for information and for informed decision making. This data warehousing was started under Shaji’s leadership one-and-a-half years ago.


This partnership with UNDP includes enhancing and disseminating collaborative digital public goods like DiCRA (Data in Climate Resilient Agriculture). DiCRA is an open innovation (open source) digital public good that provides satellite data and analytics to promote data-driven decision making for climate action in agriculture.

Started in Telangana, DiCRA is now operational in Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Kerela, Maharashtra and Telangana. Rohilla said plans are there to cover the whole country with DiCRA.

Stating that the Indian farmer has little to marginal knowledge about weather prediction for the next crop cycles, he said weather related data emerges as one of the most critical missing links. With near real-time and high resolution satellite data, automated data pipelines, advanced analytics with machine learning and AI – DiCRA will add value to policy framework in Nabard. Data relating to bio mass, heat mapping, soil conditions, etc., can revolutionise policy framework if it is shared as a public good.

On the reasons behind Nabard collaborating with UNDP on this project, he said the collaboration is an off shoot of Shaji’s vision of building open source data streams for the entire sector.

He said MoU will help create a national-level source with rich data sets in the climate proofing domain. The data will enable Nabard for Climate Change Adaptation Fund and the Direct Access Entity for Green Climate Fund to assess and develop state-level climate proofing projects. This data will enable making district-level climate dashboards.

On DiCRA’s role in encouraging a longer-term perspective in agriculture investment, he said DiCRA is guided by the digital public good principles of open access, open software, open code and open APIs. “In all our engagements with the agritech sector, access to such software and data has emerged as stumbling blocks. The accessible nature of DiCRA’s open source thus makes it a huge opportunity for agri-techs,” he said.

Over 100 data scientists contribute to the DiCRA platform on a pro bono basis. It has proven its scalability, servicing climate action across vast geographies in India.

He said DiCRA can be used for planning and prioritising villages that are highly vulnerable to climate change, and promote cross learning from climate resilient villages.

Rohilla said this partnership between UNDP and Nabard on data innovations can accelerate the culture and capacities for data-driven decision making not only in Nabard but across agriculture ecosystem in India such as at policy level, at programme level, and at grassroots by directly placing these tools in the hands of farmers.