The CTA-funded project, Monitoring Family Farms Within CAPAD Member Cooperatives, aims to improve agricultural product development and marketing activities through the trial and use of ICTs. These technical developments are intended to better support farmer members of the Confederation of Agricultural Producer Associations for Development (CAPAD), in Burundi.
CAPAD supports Burundian smallholders (more than 14,000 are registered with the organisation through 39 cooperatives), mainly in the food-producing sectors (cereals, tubers, fruit and vegetables). In 2012, in partnership with the Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires (Food Strategies Collective), the organisation started profiling the agricultural data of its farmers. CAPAD focused on collecting agricultural yield data (area of land under cultivation, list of products grown, expected surplus and harvest date), as well as household data (level of education, literacy, number of people, etc.). This information was then used to create unique farmer profiles for each member.
CAPAD needed support to modernise the paper-based data collection and entry system it used for farmer profiling. CTA provided CAPAD with the mentoring required to implement a new system that would improve the quality of the data collected and facilitate data sharing between cooperatives. Farmer data is now collected through a tool developed in SQL – an open database management system.
In order to guarantee continuous and systematic data collection, CAPAD acquired 13 desktop computers, 39 tablets and 12 solar energy kits to run the new equipment. These devices supplied all 39 country-wide cooperatives that are benefiting from the project. A 5-day training workshop was held from 17-21 December 2018, to instruct cooperative managers on how to use the computers and tablets. Training is ongoing, and refresher sessions are helping cooperative managers to become familiar with the PUMA unified agricultural monitoring programme, particularly the component on organising marketing campaigns.
The cooperatives benefiting from the project thus now have access to devices that simplify their work, enabling them to, for example, register information on applications for seeds, fertilisers, phytosanitary products and even credit. The cooperatives can also now plan for the upcoming seasons on the basis of expected production.
- A lack of electricity in 12 communes means that CAPAD is unable to reach all of the 39 target communes.
- The measurement of fields is still carried out using tape measures, a time-consuming and inaccurate method.
Digitalised sustainable solutions
- The GPS mapping of agricultural fields would more accurately measure the exact area of agricultural land and is a planned activity for the project. Accurate farm size information is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of agricultural extension services.
- Meetings with farmers are essential to better assess their needs, learn from their experiences with agricultural data and involve them in planning the various activities for the agricultural season.
- A digital payment system is being developed by the project under the supervision of CAPAD to provide more transparency, given the risks associated with cash payments to farmers.
CAPAD’s work on data collection is responding to the shortcomings observed in the performance of agricultural producers’ organisations in Burundi. The latter now have access to inputs, credit, support, advice and even profitable real-time markets. In this way, the various economic activities developed by the organisations contribute to social cohesion and stability in Burundi.