Power of Data

by Eliana Mingard and Martin Rossi, Cocoasource SA

To what sustainable development goal do you deliver?

What was the situation?

During internal inspections, cooperatives collect numerous primary data on paper. Data collected on paper are often forgotten, lost, hard to read, not standardised and outdated as smallholders’ groups evolve rapidly. Many projects are implemented but it remains very difficult to assess the impact/need for people. Below are some practical examples:

  1. Training: Difficult to assess the impact of GAP classes and to analyse attendance per theme of farmers in cooperatives (some farmers miss some themes).
  2. Community projects: Still a need for community projects in West Africa. Many projects, however, are implemented and collapse after a while (water pumps out of usage, school w/o teachers, …).
  3. Good governance: In some cooperatives, ideas and decisions are the fruit of few strong leaders instead of a group consensus.
  4. Tree plantations: No- or poor follow up of trees’ death rates.

What did you do?

Digitalisation of the cooperative enabling them to gather any data regarding all cooperative activities.

  • Training in digitalisation and data collection.
  • Training in mapping and projection.
  • Training in data management, analysis, and reporting.
  • Financial support for equipment acquisition, internal inspections and polygons recording.

By analysing the data, cooperatives can address all the previous situations described above.

What are the results?

With digitalised data, cooperatives have a better insight of their communities. Audits are facilitated with automatic reports for farmers and mistakes are limited by reducing human intervention with one entry per data set (could result in cost efficiency, quicker and remote auditing).

  • Training: Can be performed in groups but also in more dedicated classes. We can link progress to training attendances and customise coaching.
  • Community projects: By listing the members in relation to their immediate community (city>village>camp) and performing online surveys, one can obtain a precise census and prioritise projects by impact and needs.
  • Good governance: If decisions are made to answer observed needs, it reinforces the power of good governance and the cooperative work for the general interest of its members’ community.
  • Tree plantations: Coordinates and digital registration is helping the follow up of agroforestry projects and verifications.

Who was involved and how?

Three cooperatives involved in the project: IBA (cocoa in Togo), ATW group of farmers (Cocoa in Uganda) and Copavgon (Cashew in IVC, Bondoukou). PCs (Purchasing Clerks), Lead farmers (trained and coaching all members) as well as responsible staff of the cooperatives, are trained to collect, organise, and analyse the data.

NGO (in Uganda, we work with Swisscontact for registration, training, and certification support) and any potential funds and/or customers willing to support cooperatives with implementation costs.  

And of course, the software tool provider. In our case, we want the coop to own their own license and to choose their preferred system to be used in all cooperative level.

How could the solution be scaled?

Eventually, we are willing to replicate this activity with other partner cooperatives.

The next step could lead to better understanding of farms (better yields, CO2 reduction or retention leading to new premiums). Assessed experience could create better models of agroforestry by analysing higher quality data thanks to frequency of the internal inspections and their analysis on the long run.