Over the past few months, the Capsella and Diversifood projects, both of which involve Rete Semi Rurali, the Italian seed network, agreed on a series of points of synergy and collaboration on data management issues. These points were formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in November 2016.
In the meanwhile, Diversifood partners met in Florence, Italy, on the 20th of September 2016 to discuss ways forward on the crucial issue of how to optimize data management within each European seed network participating in the project. Representatives from Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Pro Specie Rara (Switzerland), Arche Noa (Austria), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Red de Semillas (Spain) agreed on the opportunity provided by the Capsella project to better structure their data management systems, in particular their variety databases and their field data logs. In discussing the technicalities of the instruments, tools and services Capsella could provide, a few key issues of central relevance to all Diversifood partners emerged; these are interoperability of any tool developed, the possibility of integration with existing systems and tools already used by the communities, and the capability to work with incomplete datasets which are almost the norm in participatory and multi-actor research as that promoted by Diversifood. These issues need to be better discussed within each communities and across communities since not all members are familiar with what these terms mean. Having this discussion thoroughly will allow seed network communities to express their needs and expectations more clearly to informatics experts working within Capsella. With this in mind, Diversifood partners concluded that a joint workshop between Diversifood and Capsella, also inviting external or affiliated experts in data management, would be the best step forward to define the type and features of the tool required by Capsella’s seed scenario communities. Initial virtual meetings will be organized during the early months of 2017, while the physical workshop will take place in Italy in mid-March.