Power of Data

by Ross Jaax, Swisscontact

To what sustainable development goal do you deliver?

What was the situation?

Farmers in traceable, sustainable supply chains are adopting best practices and improved technology at a lower rate than expected. The effort to boost adoptions is to provide 1-on-1 coaching to farmers, but is slow, expensive, and lacks effective communication tools. Current strategy is to treat each farmer identically in terms of engagement, which is not a strategy and wastes field staff time and resources. Field staff performance is not easily, nor effectively measured. There are instances of low levels of effective feedback, and a high burnout rate. The level of supply from certified, sustainable growers is lower than expected, and the quality is dropping.

What did you do?

FarmNetX is a service to provide decision tools to agricultural commodity aggregators to help them direct their precious investments to improve farmer performance with attention to how improvements can be shared and diffused across the network.FarmNetX makes use of the current data being collected on cropping practices and uses that to better understand the farmers’ levels of innovation relative to each other. From this, FarmNetX can identify the more innovative farmers, and how they are tied to other farmers, as well as the laggards in the network, in order to better target budget for farmer engagement.

Segmentation and measurement of performance
We quantified the relative adoption levels of each farmer and the impact field staff had on those levels. We did this using the existing data from sustainable supply chain networks.

Understanding of Knowledge Sharing Networks
Using sociometric data, we visualised and quantified how knowledge and ideas spread within farmer networks.

Cost effective strategy to reach farmers
Using transformative coaching and network facilitation strategies, designed engagement to improve innovation and trust in farmer networks.

What are the results?

We provided a detailed engagement plan for each sub-network, typically at the village level because that is the most consistent network boundary. The plan had very clear visibility for farmers to engage with, how to reach less centralised farmers in the network, and then included easy to understand metrics for success.

Who was involved and how?

  1. The Sustainability Manager overseeing the farmer engagement and results strategy.
  2. The survey application designer. FarmNetX data is best collected through a mobile application, so we also helped design user interface, questions to be asked, and lastly parameters for how the data would be analysed.
  3. Field staff of the company. They are key stakeholders in this effort, which has the objective to make them more effective in doing their job.

How could the solution be scaled?

The solution can easily apply to any traceable, certified supply chain that collects data from farmers on a regular basis, as is required for most certifications. The power of this is to compare differences rates of adoption/innovation by farmers from year to year. A multiple year effort will bear the fruit of this approach more than one-off.