Implementation of ICT in cooperation with the Ghanaian FOLA-Association
Our partner FOLA association promotes organic orange maize for animal feed with small-scale growers in the Ashanti region of Ghana. FOLA not only uses the KIPUS software of KIAG, but also draws on our expertise in the development of an analogous and digital training curriculum. During a recent project visit, KIAG has introduced and discussed the basic structure of a farmer centred learning approach. In close cooperation with local key farmers the team has developed a script to visualize current and new agronomic practices to create awareness for transformation among farmers. The transition from conventional to sustainable agriculture including organic elements is a challenge in the region. Currently, farmers face the epidemic pest of the armyworm which heavily affects the current harvest. At the same time, prices for inputs are increasing which has prompted FOLA to give the appropriate answers based on the approach of bio-economy. By the first quarter of 2019, KIAG will conduct first trainings for key farmers who disseminate the knowledge at community level. FOLA will also establish a multi-purpose centre for training and maize storage.
Photo: Planned project site of FOLA in the area of Mompong. Stephan Kunz 2018
Lecture at Nairobi University on ICT4Agri
Prof. Agnes Mwang’ombe, Principal of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences of Nairobi University (www.uonbi.ac.ke) and member of the scientific board of InnovAfrica, has invited Stephan Kunz of KIAG to give a lecture on “Concept of Capacity Building – A Blended Learning Approach for Farmers & Extension Workers“. 80 Master students of the prestigious university discussed options for innovations in extension work. The students raised the question of doing an internship with a partner of the InnovAfrica project in order to practice blended learning at the farmer level.
Photo: Students' group of Nairobi University. Stephan Kunz 2018
Participatory workshop on curricula development in Malawi and Kenya
How can we verify scientific research results on the farming situation by farmers? This was the key challenge discussed during two participatory workshops in the region of Dedza/Malawi and in Kangundo/Kenya facilitated by KIAG and its partners University of Malawi (www.unima.mw) and KALRO (www.kalro.org) from Kenya. InnovAfrica partners have mobilized key farmers and extension workers to participate in the workshops and share their views. Given the varying local circumstances and research results in both countries the discussions on eye-level with farmers have produced remarkable findings.
For instance, child marriage in Malawi is not as much culturally based as we had expected, but rather than that results from a lack of opportunities and mainly a lack of education of girls and young women. The workshop participants have decided to articulate that topic during their extension activities in the rural communities to create more awareness and address this specific need towards local governments for further action.
In Kenya, the dominance of men within farmer groups has been wrongly attributed to cultural aspects and customs. In contrast to that, the farmer groups have analysed that the weak participation of women in decision making processes and training events is not related to a pure gender issue, but mainly to the heavy workload of women in farming, household and child education at the same time. Therefore, going forward the training schedule shall put the availability of women into consideration in order to assure their participation.
Together with all partners, KIAG will now elaborate a modular curriculum which distinguishes social topics such as general education and pure agricultural topics such as technical training. In that context the partners have developed first visual elements which shall be used as learning material for the curriculum. In Malawi, farmers have prepared the concept of the intercropping system of maize, sorghum and legumes. In Kenya, the whole supply chain from Brachiaria grass production to the diary processing plant has been covered. The knowledge platform developed by KIAG will be the digital medium for these learning approaches in addition to other dissemination channels such as posters or guidelines.
Photo: The Malawi team producing a technical guideline at farm level. Stephan Kunz 2018
Third stakeholder meeting of InnovAfrica
The Agriculture Research Centre (www.arc.agric.za) of South Africa hosted the third stakeholder meeting of InnovAfrica in Pretoria in the period of 6. – 10. August. 16 partners in six African countries collaborate in the development of various innovations to support the implementation of sustainable agriculture intensification (SAI) systems. This time the main focus referred to the presentation of research results related to the data collection of 3,817 household questionnaires in all six countries. KIAG has developed the IT-based data collection tool which was used to capture the household data and prepare them for analysis.
Another service provided by KIAG is the development of a dynamic and interactive InnovAfrica knowledge platform (http://kp-innovafrica.africabiosciences.org). That platform shall provide information and knowledge to extension workers and key farmers to disseminate and apply research results, but also to exchange experience of farmer led experimentation of SAI systems. Forage-livestock and intercropping of maize/sorghum/legume are the most relevant innovations at the twelve project sites.
Photo: Field trip with InnovAfrica partner consortium at the homelands in Free State. Stephan Kunz 2018
Field test of GCP sustainability reporting tool in Vietnam has started
Since 2017, KIAG has been closely cooperating with the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) on the implementation of the GCP’s Sustainability Performance Framework (SPF) which is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The digital solution delivered by KIAG for the SPF’s implementation uses mobile components in online and offline modes and, thus, can be used directly at the producing farms in remote areas. This allows for the tracing and visualization of sustainability performance of coffee supply chain members in Vietnam and, soon-to-be, in other countries. Farmers use the mobile application because it helps them learn and adopt good agricultural practices by structuring the activities and documenting their application.
The consolidation of all data through a Business Intelligence component provides mobile-accessible reports on pesticide usage, sustainable coffee production practices, certification readiness, production, wages, sales information and profitability – for farmers, buyers, financial institutions and consumers alike.
After a first field test which is carried out in June 2018, a large-scale roll out in Vietnam with 35,000 coffee producers will follow in the next weeks. The reporting tool will further improve transparency and is seen – both by the public and private sector – as a crucial instrument for Vietnam’s coffee sector stakeholders to obtain better governance and accelerate their own country’s sustainability journey.
Further information on the project launch and field test is available on GCP’s website.
“We have partnered up with KIAG to jointly implement KIPUS, a digital data collection and analysis tool, to measure and track impact of sustainability initiatives in major coffee producing countries, starting with Vietnam. Over the last year, we have incrementally adopted the solution into our organization, configuring and soon to be running it on our own with KIAG’s support. KIPUS is an innovative, flexible and easy-to-use tool which will help us track sustainability progress for ten-thousands of coffee growers across our members’ supply chains.”
Andreas Terhaer – Global Coffee Platform (GCP)
Photos copyright 2018 GCP
EU 4 Business Azerbaijan
KIAG staff Stephan Kunz continued his activities in Azerbaijan in cooperation with ITC/UNCTAD and carried out research on the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Nakchivan that is located to the border of Iran. In close cooperation with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and experts of the national Ministry of Economy the team inspected strong and weak points of local food processors. They range from small scale to ambitious medium-sized companies.
The special weather conditions in the area as well its high soil potential provide a sustainable foundation for special fruits and herbs. The products such as dried fruits, jams and jellies have a great potential for niche markets. The business partners intend to approach the European market and are eager to comply with food standards such as GAP and HACCP. In addition, marketing activities and the necessity of proper documentation and traceability are key features for the ongoing project – up to 2020 – in the near future.
Other companies that will benefit from the program have already been assessed in a previous visit in May 2018. Herbal tea, oriental sauces made of vegetables and local herbs as well as special fruits such as persimmon cover the range of products.
GIZ lecture series in Berlin
GIZ, Centre for Rural Development (SLE) and Engagement Global are conducting regularly a lecture series for post-graduate students who attend the SLE. With regard to the topic “Which contribution to education and training can be provided through development cooperation by government, civil society, private sector and science?”, Stephan Kunz, one of the speakers, shared experiences from African countries and particularly Ghana. The expenditure of governments into education and particularly non-formal training such as for agriculture is usually insufficient and often ignored entirely. Despite the fact that up to 80% of rural dwellers work in agriculture, this sector is neglected in many ways. Nevertheless, the policy discussion has realised that food security and food production per se have economic potential although the structure of subsistence farming will not be the future as qualification along the value chain will gain more importance. In as much as the public sector is limited civil society and private sector are in lead to contribute as there is vast business opportunity in both production as well as processing.
Kunz explained that the training sector should not only produce limited competencies such as a few technical skills, but follow a complementary, modular approach which matches the needs of farmers and the market. The modernization of agriculture is getting more and more complex and requires efficiency. Training needs to be tailor-made and ICT tools can be increasingly used in the context of smallholders farming to achieve this. Nevertheless, the public sector needs to be involved and provide support as the process takes years to materialize.
Photo copyright SLE 2018
KIAG @ ICT4D Conference in Lusaka
From 8 to 10 May, KIAG participated in the 10th ICT4D Conference held in Lusaka. During these three days, experts discussed the latest opportunities for information and communication technology to foster development in various sectors, ranging from digital financial inclusion, humanitarian response, agriculture and environment, health and nutrition, and education. The conference proved the tremendous potential which ICT has in helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Clearly, governments, NGOs, private sector and development practitioners increasingly acknowledge and seize the value that innovative ICT solutions, big data, satellite imagery and data analytics provide.
Whereas data is often abundant, many organizations still lack instruments and strategies to use the information that lays at their feet to full effect. KIAG considers its product portfolio well positioned in that regard, providing solutions such as KIPUS and website-based knowledge platforms that fully integrate data collection, data analytics and reporting for different groups of stakeholders. On 11 May, KIAG staff also participated in a training day on human centred design approaches in software development which has been guiding software development processes of our company ever since.
KIAG seeks to stay engaged with the ICT4D community aiming to offer traceability and knowledge sharing solutions in the context of development cooperation.
KIAG cooperation with International Trade Centre (ITC)
KIAG expert Stephan Kunz has been selected by ITC/UNCTAD based in Geneva to assist in the EU 4 business program in Azerbaijan. The country which is rich in natural resources like oil and gas is in the process of diversifying its economy and create also more job opportunities for the rural population. ITC and its local partner AZPROMO have chosen agro-processing as a focus area for economic diversification. 30 companies have been surveyed and technically screened to analyse the potential, but also challenges related to getting access to European market.
Azerbaijan has set up a lot of new facilities and agencies to support the economic development of small and medium sized enterprises. Food safety, e-commerce and marketing are only some few areas of support. KIAG focusses on the technical part of this process and identifies basic needs for agro-processors (e.g. dried fruit, jam & jellies), such as the compliance with standards like GLOBAL G.A.P. and ISO 22:000/HACCP standards.
First companies in the area in and around the capital of Baku have been put on the list of beneficiaries. The next regional areas which will be integrated are Southern Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakchivan.
Organic maize growers in Ghana benefit from KIPUS crop cycle tracking and FöLA support
Starting in April 2018, the FöLA Social Business GmbH has begun to roll out a digital crop cycle tracking system which is based on the KIPUS software solution. FöLA has been supporting smallholder organic farming activities in Ghana since 2010 and has begun to scale its activities recently. The introduction of KIAG’s software-based traceability tool enables streamlined monitoring of production processes and, thus, helps meet high quality standards of organic maize production.
Data collected over time for various crop cycles will be analysed through KIPUS’s reporting features, thereby providing valuable information to farmers and FöLA’s management alike. The solution will also allow farmers to identify and communicate their needs for agronomic and business-related training, seed, finance, machinery and other farm services which will then be provided by FöLA tailored to the farmers’ needs.
“FöLA has adopted KIAG’s KIPUS solution to track production processes of small-scale maize growers in Ghana. The system allows us to effectively collect and manage data in remote settings with state-of-the-art technology, identify farmers’ needs for qualification and investment, forecast production volumes and quality levels and track progress made through our engagement over time. We are not only building on KIAG’s tailored software package but also from the company’s extensive knowledge in smallholder agriculture and value chain development in the Global South.”
Andreas Mussack – FöLA Social Business GmbH
Organic agriculture in the Ukraine
AFC and GFA conduct a program on organic agriculture in cooperation with the Zhytomyr National Agroecological University in the Ukraine. A partner consortium of organic agriculture including certification experts on organic standards have developed a course for governmental employees and other experts involved in the food value chain.
KIAG has been appointed to introduce a pedagogical concept to introduce methodical and didactical knowledge. It is the aim of the program to set up a knowledge platform based on the concept proposal of KIAG which was developed already in December 2017.
KIAG has conducted various expert talks and discovered a well-established learning laboratory for the development of didactical materials near Kiew, which is managed by the government organisation Agroosvita. Agroosvita is responsible for all topics related to training in agriculture including organic practices. That refers to the wide range of qualification starting from vocational schools up to university level.
Furthermore, KIAG staff Stephan Kunz conducted a workshop to introduce basic information of learning approaches for different professional bodies that deal with the topic of organic agriculture and certification. The process will be continued in the second half of 2018.
Full traceability in Vietnam - Les Vergers Du Mekong apply KIAG’s KIPUS for fruit production
Les Vergers Du Mekong (LVDM) and KIAG have recently intensified their cooperation in Vietnam. LVDM, a fruit processing company operating in Vietnam and working with small-scale growers in the Mekong Delta since 2000 has recently adopted KIAG’s traceability solution KIPUS.
Due to its exporting activities to the European Union, LVDM has a strong interest in the transparency of the fruit supply chain and seeks to gain full insight into farming practices adopted by its suppliers. Full tracking of the crop cycle – from planting to the final harvest – provides critical information, e.g. on input application practices. It also offers an effective tool for trouble shooting and decision making at company level.
The farmers involved in the traceability system benefit from improved knowledge about sustainable farming, higher awareness of suboptimal practices and a secure market access which awards them for higher qualities and the renouncing of banned agricultural inputs. Farmers consider the software a valuable tool for farm documentation and LVDM being its distributor gives the company a unique selling point when engaging producers in the region.
“As French owned SME based in Vietnam since 2000, we export high-quality juices and jams from Vietnam to the best hotels in South East Asia, Middle East and Fruit Purees to European market. We benefit tremendously from having full insight into the realities on the ground and farm practices adopted by the high-value fruit producers we work with. KIPUS not only allows us to trace and monitor the entire production cycle and to communicate these details to our buyers, but we are also automatically notified if suboptimal practices threaten our sustainability claims, thus preventing economic damage to producers and the company before it even arises.”
Jean-Luc Voisin – Les Vergers du Mekong
WeTrace: Multi-Stakeholder Partnership training
The partner consortium of justiceF (German foundation), Vietnam Centre for Agricultural Training (VSCEF) as well as the Philippine Association of Negros Producers (ANP) maintain a BMZ co-funded project on sustainable farming in several regions in Vietnam and the Philippines for the period of 2017-2020. Its goal is to organize stakeholders to analyze, plan and establish a sustainable value chain among producers, traders, public sector, academia and civil society. VSCEF as well as ANP have taken the role of steering that multi-stakeholder partnership according to local framework conditions. Due to regular exchange and specific training for all involved partners first pilot projects with regard to specific value chain problems are jointly developed. In March, KIAG has been invited to conduct a one-week training workshops each in Kabankalan (Negros Occidental/Philippines) and Vinh Long (Vinh Long/Vietnam) in order to elaborate feasible approaches of value chain partners.
First ideas have been created on how to trace the whole production process as the market in both countries is getting more sensitive for quality and environmental issues. Therefore, the partner consortium has developed the program 'WeTrace'. It means that only by mutual collaboration and partnership the aim of sustainable production and agribusiness can be achieved based on a common data base in order to achieve a high level of transparency.
Don Bosco Mondo Workshop Talk
As every year the prominent non-governmental organisation Don Bosco Mondo has held its traditional workshop talk on technical vocational education and training (TVET). The topic for 2018 was ‘TVET and digitalization’. KIAG has been approached to share an innovative approach about the triad of ‘ICT, TVET and Agriculture’. In close collaboration with the partner organisation FöLA that works on organic maize production with hundreds of smallholders in the Ashanti region of Ghana, KIAG explained the complementary approach and discussed it with a group of development experts.
Based on KIAG’s WeTrace concept the company has configured its software package to reflect the specific needs of FöLA association. KIAG also develops an analogous and digital curriculum for farmers shifting their maize production from conventional to organic farming. The aspect of agroecology is fundamental for farmers to sustain their livelihood by using environmentally sound practice and reducing dependency on input supply services.
Photo Copyright Don Bosco Mondo e.V. 2018
InnovAfrica Stakeholder Meeting in Kigali
The EU-funded project InnovAfrica that combines the interdisciplinary cooperation of 16 African and European research and extension organizations in the context of agriculture has invited all participants for its second general meeting. KIAG has introduced KIPUS in order to collect and analyze data of a voluminous household questionnaire of around 3.600 farmer’s households in six African partner countries. Going forward, KIAG will also be responsible to design and create a digital knowledge pool that allows to exploit data and generate applied knowledge for farmers and extension workers related to their working and living conditions.
The monitoring and planning meeting has been conducted in Kigali/Ruanda and offered also a lot of inside views of Brachiaria grass, one of the sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) systems. The focus of KIAG will be to transfer the findings of experimental trials by farmers and agricultural experts into knowledge for extension. The KIPUS software finds its application to trace the whole production process for selected crops (e.g. maize, sorghum, legumes) in the context of SAI.
Sustainable tourism with Reisen mit Sinnen (Travel with Senses)
Similar to a previous develoPPP.de project KIAG is supporting of a new tourism project with the German company Reisen mit Sinnen GmbH in the Philippines – again with our local partner Travel Authentic Philippines (TAP) who have started their activities in 2015. Various international agencies cooperate with TAP who is the only provider of sustainable tourism packages in the region. The new program with Reisen mit Sinnen refers to the establishment of sustainable tourism in ethnic communities in the Visayas, Palawan and Luzon. Ethnic communities which have no access to tourism are trained and assisted to develop their products considering that this approach contains a certain process of social and cultural transformation. Improved livelihoods are critical to assure economic and also social survival maintaining traditional social structures.
AFC – Financial Expert Day
Our strategic partner AFC has invited KIAG to share and contribute ideas during its Financial Expert Day held in January at Montabaur Castle. The meeting was hosted by the Academy of German Cooperatives International (ADG) on the topic “Developing tools and digital solutions for agricultural finance projects”. KIAG – represented by Stephan Kunz – developed ideas and mainly referred to the importance of the process of specification according to the needs of stakeholders. This forms the foundation to set up an appropriate data architecture for all stakeholders involved – also in the financial sector. More than 40 international experts exchanged their experience and discussed innovations in various modular workshops.
Launch of agri@bonn - digital solutions for the agricultural sector
January 15, 2018
In January 2018, AFC and KIAG jointly launched the agri@bonn software package which is based on KIAG’s software solution KIPUS.
Farm-level performance data in agricultural value chains in the Global South are often scarce, cumbersome to capture and, if available, rarely analyzed to seize their full potential. Agri@bonn is a software package offered by Agriculture & Finance Consultants (AFC) and Knowledge Intelligence Applications GmbH (KIAG) aiming to support farmers, development organizations and companies in the mobile collection, management and analysis of data along the supply chain of agricultural commodities. It also assists farmers in the practical acquisition of agronomic and business-related knowledge, thereby helping to improve farming techniques, management practices and, ultimately, rural livelihoods.
Currently, agri@bonn and derived systems are implemented in 11 countries in Africa and Asia, with thousands of farmers growing more than 50 different crops in cooperation with various private and public sector partners. The software package has the following features:
- Fully customizable and adaptable to different crops, countries and languages based on alignment and co-creation with beneficiaries and users
- Reduced dependency on recall data through timely input into the system improves data accuracy and enables data driven initiatives
- Data is stored confidentially and securely in alignment with data privacy standards with fully customizable access rights according to regional or organizational structure
The agri@bonn flyer can be downloaded here