ICTs/Mobile apps for Management and Use of Agricultural Data

Organised by: IFPRI

This session covers areas related to the capacity strengthening of different stakeholders in the agricultural sector. It will include a review of agricultural data initiatives in West African states, and explorations into

  1. how measurement tools can benefit the overall management of agricultural activities;
  2. how crowdsourcing can help improve data for yield gap analysis; and
  3. how mobile apps can be utilised to improve the data available to decision makers.

By the end of this session, participants will have gained insight into

  1. the impact of real-time data on farmer organizations;
  2. how crucial it is to incentivise farmers to provide data and keep good records; and
  3. how the information gap between policy makers and data managers can be lessened through these initiatives.
Nov 7, 08:30 - 10:00
Room: Mugesera
Stream: Emerging Innovations

Sessions Chair

Chair of the session is Luz Marina Alvare
Head of Knowledge Management, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Head of the Knowledge Management Unit at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), coordinates an interdisciplinary team that focuses on ways to connect information and knowledge management with international development research.

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Measurement and micro-data: the key to effective and inclusive supply chains

Bill Gates dedicated his entire (December 2012) annual letter to emphasizing the need for better measurement. “Given how tight budgets are around the world, governments are rightfully demanding effectiveness in the programs they pay for. To address these demands, we need better measurement tools to determine which approaches work and which do not. I think a lot of efforts fail because they don't focus on the right measure or they don't invest enough in doing it accurately.” In a Wall Street Journal feature article on the same theme, he concluded: “We can do better. We have the tools at hand.”

Using empirical learnings from Grameen Foundations programs, this session will explore the value of measurement in agricultural supply chains. It will show how measurement tools can increase transparency for organizations in making investments or launching new services that benefit the poor. ICT makes data collection and measurement more efficient. But the much bigger opportunity for ICT is to design more holistic solutions that measurably address the real problems of the small farmer by allowing all key actors in the value chain system to make better management decisions – what is increasingly called creating “shared value”.

The future of agricultural value chain financing, for example, will rely on these tools to design better product offerings, understand the needs and uses of their products better, and seamlessly track behavioral change and welfare improvement.

The session’s learning objectives include:

  • First, an increased understanding of how measurement benefits management decisions for farmers, processors, agribusinesses or banks, by designing workflows so that “data drops out of process” rather than as an extra set of processes and costs.
  •  A second objective: understand the impact real-time data can have on the way farmer organizations are run and make decisions. Decentralized collection processes enables managers to make better investment decisions.
  • Third: participants will experience how good measurement influences the appropriate design of services for small farmers.

Organization : Grameen Foundation App Lab


Dorothy Okello

Founder, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)


Gonzalo Aramayo-Careaga

e-Governance Research Analyst, UNDP


Mark Pickens

Senior Business Leader, VISA


Stéphane Gambier

Senior Programme Coordinator Communication, CTA


Luz Marina Alvare

Head of Knowledge Management, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)


Patrice Annequin

Senior Market Information Specialist, International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC)


Saskia Harmsen

Officer Community Relations, Innovation & Capacity Development, International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)


Alvaro Valverde Lopez

Private Sector Advisor, Oxfam GB


Sophie Treinen

Knowledge and Capacity for Development, FAO


Peter Ballantyne

Head of Knowledge Management and Information Services, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Eric White

Managing Associate and Lead Econ-omist, Integra Government Services International LLC


Jon Corbett

Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice, University of British Columbia


Paul Kukubo

CEO at East Africa Exchange


Travis Heneveld

Account Director, United Nations Motorola


Raphaël Dard

Adviser, E-business - Mobile Solutions, ITC


Hani Eskandar

ICT Applications Coordinator, ITU


Yazeed Sheqem

Director of Business Development, Souktel Inc.

Keynote Speaker

Rebecca Enonchong

Founder and CEO at AppsTech


John Tull

Global Director, Mobile Agriculture Innovation, Grameen Foundation

The state of agricultural data initiatives in ECOWAS

The nature of the agricultural sector demands that its planning, implementation, and monitoring activities be based on sound evidence. The trend of demographic data on farm households is critical. Timely access and accuracy of these data on farmers, their households and farm activities is primarily key for policy, and decision-making by development organizations, national governments, and funding agencies. Governments require quality data in order to monitor development processes and to take actions to ensure food security. For project implementers, field workers, and researchers, evidence-based decisions made by governments and international organizations have an added value on their future production, marketing, and decisions. In West Africa, the Research and Statistical Directorate of ECOWAS has recognized the link between a rich set of accurate, adequate, relevant and current data; good research; and policy-making.Effort such as the conceptualization, design and implementation of the West Africa Agricultural Information System (ECOAGRIS)is laudable. But little progress has been made in tackling the problem in its entirety. The challenge may be classified as social, institutional, and technical. The study is designed to understand the current state (social, institutional, and technical) of agricultural data in ECOWAS, identify opportunities for integrating ICTs for data management, and make the right linkages between appropriate systems/platforms and the policy analysts/users to take agriculture information a step further in West Africa. This would help address the current information gap between policy makers and data managers.

Organization : CTA


Benjamin Kwasi Addom

ICT4D Programme Coordinator, CTA

Mobile application record-keeping system to enhance better farming management among smallholder poultry farmers in Tanzania

Keeping accurate and up-to-date records is vital to the success of any enterprise. Poultry farmers lack convenient ways for collecting, analyzing and storing information about their enterprises and hence do not see the power of record keeping into profitable farming.

All farmers need to manage their enterprises by keeping records about their farm expenditure which include running costs, production and sales to be able to evaluate their farm performance and to make decisions on improvement. Most of the farmers do not have modern tools to facilitate their record management and have no access to computer systems, but majority own mobile phones and stay in areas with network and cellular signals. The currently available mobile applications concentrate on providing farming information about commodity prices, markets links, education and money transfer while forgetting the important aspect of record keeping which would give a farmer reports on sales volume, revenue and expenditure in a given period of time to allow timely evaluation and necessary action. All this would have been time consuming without a mobile record keeping application. Further, the system provides farmers with health advisory.

A well-managed record keeping system through mobile phone application, whose usage is more than 80% in Africa, will improve the quantity and quality of poultry data available to decision makers. This is a pre-condition for formulating effective agricultural and rural sector investments to help farmers tap into market opportunities.

In decision making, relevant government organs can deduce information from the recorded data on production level, diseases outbreaks, revenues and expenditures for intervention and improvement in the sector. For example assuming the system is used by 70% of all the poultry farmers in the country for a period of one year, this will imply that 70% records of the poultry enterprises will be available to the government and other stakeholders in the sector for planning, decision making, and intervention and evaluation purposes.

With the availability of real data on farmer’s organizations, farmers will be able to manage their enterprises well by keeping good records which can help them analyze their business performance and knowing what to do to improve that performance or correct where they went wrong. It is essential for farmers to provide data and keep good records because not only that it is helping them manage their farms but also the collected data can be used by other players in the sector for better improvement of the sector and with that the information barrier between the policy makers like the government and the farmers will be narrowed.



Martina Wilfred Mariki

Masters Student, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology

Yield gap monitoring: opportunities for crowdsourcing approaches to collect farm level data for yield gap analysis

The world population is anticipated to be 9.1 billion in 2050 and the challenge is how to feed this huge number of people without affecting other natural ecosystems. Different approaches have been proposed and closing the "yield gap" on currently available agricultural lands is one of them. Yield gap analysis can be performed at different scales; from field to global level. Of particular importance is estimating the yield gap and revealing the underlying explanatory factors contributing to it. As decisions are made by farmers, farm level yield gap analysis specifically contributes to better understanding, and provides entry points to increased production levels in specific farming systems.

Obtaining information about farm management, crop management, farm and farmers characteristics for a large number of farms is a challenge. Nowadays, due to the proliferation of computing and mobile devices which are equipped with sensors, and other similar technologies, it has become possible to implement bottom-up data collection approaches like crowdsourcing (the "act of taking a job which was traditionally performed by a designated employee and outsourcing it to a crowd, generally large group of people in the form of an open call" (Sharma 2010) with which relatively great amounts of information can be directly obtained from local volunteer communities (Ferster and Coops 2013).

1. Closing the yield gap on currently available agricultural lands is one of the options for food security. Detailed yield gap analysis at the farm level is required to estimate the yield gap and causes of the yield gap. To conduct yield gap analysis, detailed data at the farm level is required.
2. Crowdsourcing is one of the innovative bottom-up data collection approaches where farmers can provide detailed data for yield gap analysis.
3. In order to get active participation from the farmers, their motivation needs to be identified and based on this the required incentives and motivation need to be understood.

Organization : IFPRI


Eskender Andualem Beza

Research Assistant at Wageningen University & Research Center