Improving the management of membership data is part of the strategic area of farmers' organisations in Southern Africa. In order to provide reliable and useful membership data, CTA through the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) is working together with the Swaziland National Agricultural Union (SNAU) and Lesotho National Farmers' Union (LENAFU) to develop an electronic membership data system.
Electronic Membership Data Management solution
SACAU is working in partnership with CTA on how they can assist their member farmers' organisations, SNAU and LENAFU, with registration service development. The proposed service allows having the members' profiles in real time. The electronic membership data system aims to provide a better data management system for both the farmers' organisations. As a result, a timely updating and production of farmers' membership data is being undertaken by the two farmers' organisations. As many as 22,709 farmers have already been registered through the first phase of this project. The use of SMS based solution (WhatsApp) and existing files uploads, as well as a mobile application, were combined to generate a profile of the farmers' organisations' members.
In order to capture all of the information about the farmers in these two farmers' organisations, CTA and SACAU trained enumerators who started registering farmers. They used the same data collection parameters in Swaziland and well as Lesotho [name, surname, mobile number, year of birth, gender, nearest town, primary farming activity, and whether or not farmers are members of the farmers' organisations].
The establishment of this electronic membership data system increases the ability to provide effective services to their members. It also enhances the communication with farmers. The project brings together farmers profiling through ICT tools and raising awareness of data management for these two national farmers' organisations. The new digital platform helps the two farmers' organisations to track and maintain their member profiles.
The beneficiaries of the proposed interventions are the two farmers' organisations, farmers and other stakeholders. In the long term, the image and credibility of these farmers' organisations, as well as their ability to provide effective services to their members and stakeholders, will be enhanced.
Whilst the target in Swaziland – in terms of registered farmers – had almost been reached at the end of the first phase, in Lesotho the work is still very much in progress. As at end of December 2016, a total of 20,316 and 2,390 farmers were registered in Swaziland and Lesotho respectively. In Swaziland, 14,796 registrations were done by WhatsApp, 2,329 by the mobile App and 3,191 through membership lists. Twenty-three (23) registrations in Lesotho were through the App while 2,367 were through membership lists.
In both countries, the farmers' registration offers a dataset that permits the two farmers' organisations to communicate efficiently with their members. The information will also allow delivery of improved services to the farmers' organisations' members and links to credit as well as market information.