Intern Ruth Amoako-Adusei wrote the following blog:
The digital revolution has come to stay and has compelled many to catch on with it. The agricultural sector has not been left out with the onset of precision agriculture, tailored mobile apps and even the Internet of Things (IoT). With the use of ICT systems, productivity has generally increased and the efficiency of food value chains has greatly improved. Agriterra saw the need to assess the ICT use and needs of their Farmer Organisations (FOs) and further map ICT agro solutions to aid in the digitalisation of the FOs to further improve the cooperatives.
In May 2020, my colleague Elena Paiuc and I began our quest to understand the use and needs of ICT among Agriterra’s FO’s and also explore existing solutions to meet those needs. I worked directly with the FOs while Elena worked with the ICT companies. Kenya, Peru, Rwanda and Vietnam were selected as the focus countries for the research. Data on the needs and use of ICT was collected from the FOs through an online survey. The survey consisted of three main themes; Electronic Membership Management systems (EMMS), ICT Agro solutions; perceptions and willingness to pay for ICT solutions. The survey was carried out online due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. This brought a different dimension as we were compelled to use various electronic means to facilitate communication and aid the collection of data.
An inventory of companies with existing ICT agro solutions that covered EMMS and ICT agro solutions were developed. From this comprehensive list, a selection was made based on criteria relevant for the adoption by the FOs. The criteria included; accessibility with a smartphone, availability offline, experience with farmer organisations and the proven positive effect on productivity or profitability of FOs.
A total of 30 FOs responded (Kenya-8, Rwanda- 10, Peru – 5, Vietnam – 7) to the survey and 26 ICT companies were shortlisted with varying solutions. Following a preliminary analysis of the results a matching exercise was organised focusing on the ICT needs largely expressed by the FOs; EMMS, Farm Management Information System (FMIS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). In this exercise, 4 FOs from Kenya and 2 FO’s from Peru were selected for interactions with various ICT companies that matched their needs. This took the research a step further, giving real-time insights into the opinions and interaction of the FOs with the ICT companies.
All in all, the results of this research promise to be interesting and provide Agriterra with a stepping stone and direction, aiding the digitalisation of Farmer Organisations!