Tech Talk for Agriculture

Organised by: CTA

Attend this session to listen to, assess, and later evaluate specific ICTs for agricultural solutions along the various components of the value chain for implementation by your institution or government. The TechTalk brings together a selection of solutions being implemented across the globe with unique features for all stakeholders. Solutions from institutions such as the Natural Resource Institute (NRI) University of Greenwich, Milan Innovincy (MI), Organic Services GmbH, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), GIZ Uganda, Mercy Corps etc. are to be featured through demonstrations of game-changing innovations for agriculture with the potential to augment the capacities of both novice and experienced users of ICTs.

Nov 7, 13:00 - 14:30
Room: Ruhondo
Stream: Emerging Innovations

Sessions Chair

Chair of the session is Jon Corbett
Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice, University of British Columbia

Jon Corbett is an Associate Professor in Community, Culture and Global Studies at UBC Okanagan and the co-director of the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice. 

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Improve farmers income through access to mobile agriculture information and financial services

Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin Mobile is a five-year program that began implementation in June 2012 with initial pilots in three countries; Zimbabwe, Uganda & Indonesia. The Agri-Fin Mobile program works with partners to build sustainable models where farm and crop management tools and financial services are "bundled" in affordable platforms on mobile phone channels to promote mass uptake commercially. In Indonesia, Mercy Corps has been working with a social enterprise, 8villages, to rollout their LISA platform, an SMS and internet platform that allows farmers to join their local farming community and receive regular community updates: seeds offers, harvest offers, questions by peers, and answers by peers or local agri-experts. “Knowledge seekers” receive information by SMS, while “knowledge givers” have access to a fun and engaging web platform where they can earn credits and improve their reputation status within the farming community. The platform was initially tested with 1,000 users in the province of West Java, Indonesia in 2012, and expanded to thousands more in early 2013 through the partnership with Mercy Corps, which facilitated the joint marketing efforts with the Ministry of Agriculture.  8villages turns the entire farming community into a content provider able to address farmers’ daily problems.  Rather than pushing top-down educational content, 8villages fosters communication within communities, enticing local and multinational agri-businesses to interact, solve each other’s problems, and transact directly.  After the completion of the testing phase, 8villages is looking at rolling out its product of nationally in collaboration with Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin Mobile Program, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the major academic stakeholders and universities in Indonesia. The first phase of application rollout has highlight several lessons learned that can be adapted by the broader community of practitioners seeking to engage.  A highlight of these are:  

  • Regulations around the registration process of agriculture value added services (agriVAS) may not be conducive for consumer adoption.  An extra layer of human interface to onboard farmers is needed.  
  • Farmers are not willing to pay for information, but they are willing to pay for financial services.  Use information services as a marketing tool to promote financial transactions, and cross subsidize the cost through interest rates and transaction fees.  
  • The buyers and input suppliers also have a financial incentive to have a direct communication line with their farmers.  This is a unique revenue opportunity and a channel to onboard farmers in bulk.  
  • Close coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture is key to positioning oneself in the market as a trusted source of information.


Sean Granville-Ross

Country Director, Mercy Corps Uganda

Milan Innovincy: Sugar Cane Spatiotemporal Information Framework - Increasing Yields and Productivity by applying ICTs


Uziel Zontag

Milan Innovincy (MI)

A mobile technology (M-Tech) pilot for the Zambian Food Reserve Agency

This pilot tests an electronic replacement to the paper-based forms used traditionally by the FRA. Information on quantity of maize purchased and stored temporarily at collection points, quantities being shipped to the district depot, quantity and quality arriving at the depot, and feed-back to collection points. Data entry is done on customised and automated, Excel spreadsheets on Android-powered tablets. The spreadsheets are synchronised daily with a cloud master copy, and customised dashboard is available at the district depot and national FRA headquarters. The pilot tests the technology, hardware and software, the users’ skills and the overall usability of the solution.

View the presenatation


Bruno Tran

Grain Postharvest Scientist, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich

Data out, knowledge in – dumb and smart phones as a platform for both research and extension delivery in smallholder farming systems

Agricultural researchers in Sub-Sahara Africa face many challenges, but two of the most most persisting challenges are getting high quality data in from remote locations and making information and insight accessible to the stakeholders in the agricultural value chain. As will be demonstrated in this presentation, electronic data collection can ease the scientist’s work and open new opportunities for mixed approaches and modes of research. At the same time it can make scientific data and insight more accessible, for example for direct use by farmer organizations, development partners, the private sector and policy makers. Experiences in this area will be shared during the presentation.    Based on recent quality data and on existing sources of extension information high quality content for agricultural extension can, thought the same innovative platforms, be made available to smallholder farmers, and rapidly be scaled up and out between large geographical areas. While technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace, most paper-based agricultural extension materials developed over the last decade (and longer) retain their relevance and should be transformed and made as high quality content also on these mobile platforms. In this presentation IITA will present its experiences on the development and deployment of extension materials on the identification and management of banana diseases and on integrated crop and pest management in cocoa farming systems in Uganda in collaboration with Grameen Foundation for use on its smart phone-based ‘Community Knowledge Worker’ system. This system is currently rapidly scaling-up to West-Africa, which means the researcher needs to learn to ‘set the content free’. The presentation will conclude with questions to the audience on how agricultural researchers can effectively collaborate with ‘ICT4ag’-partners to unlock more high quality content while continuing to guarantee quality and applicability to the local contexts.


Sander Muilerman

Anthropologist and Development Sociologist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Ecert Grower Group certification: new software for group certification and market access

The certification body CERES, the software company Intact Consult and the international consultancy Organic Services developed a software-based administration and documentation system that facilitates the implementation of internal control systems (ICS) for grower groups through a database, checklists, reports and data exports. The implementation of an ICS is required by many standards (e.g. organic, fair-trade, GLOBALG.A.P.) to control the groups' adherence to these standards. The software is based on the certification and audit management software Ecert® by Intact Consult, globally used by leading certification bodies. It was adapted to the requirements of ICS by pre-setting functions. The software is accessible via internet, no installation is required. With the software, internal inspectors can not only conduct their inspections on paper; they can also use the software's additional web and onsite functions.  


Frank Gerriets

Director, Software distribution, implementation and training, Organic Services GmbH

System-based agribusiness promotion for the coffee value chain in Uganda

GIZ, SAP, and the Ugandan Coffee Farmer Alliance have joined forces in a development partnership aimed at enhancing the transparency, efficiency and accountability of business operations in Uganda´s coffee value chain. Together, they developed an IT solution for the coffee value chain, featuring a smartphone app linked to a central database with a powerful geographical information system. Coffee farmers deliver their bags to bulking stations where they get registered and issued a bar-coded membership card. Using the SAP smartphone app, their bags are not just recorded on delivery, all subsequent transactions such as money advances, bulking, hulling, selling to exporters and final payments are registered digitally and synchronised with the central database as soon as mobile network coverage is available. The path of the produce is traced throughout the value chain.

The IT solution addresses the needs of farmers, traders, processors as well as central apex organisations. Farmers can be provided via SMS with receipts for deliveries, weather updates, know-how on agricultural practices, price information, etc. Mobile money transfers can be initiated immediately at the point of sale; and with a complete transaction record for each individual farmer at hand, banks can be approached to provide loans for fertilisers or even household needs. 

Traders utilise the system to increase their efficiency when buying, bulking and arranging their transport logistics. Centrally, the system provides for aggregated seasonal and geographical analytics, yield reports as well as traceability of produce especially relevant for certification requirements.“


Benedikt Brenke

Programme Advisor, GIZ Uganda