A mobile technology (M-Tech) pilot for the Zambian Food Reserve Agency


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Presentation by Bruno Tran, Grain Postharvest Scientist, National Resources Institute, University of Greenwich
Session: TechTalk for Ag.
on 7 Nov 2013
ICT4Ag, Kigali, Rwanda

Published in: Technology, Business
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A mobile technology (M-Tech) pilot for the Zambian Food Reserve Agency

  1. 1. A mobile technology (M-Tech) pilot for the Zambian Food Reserve Agency Emerging innovations
  2. 2. Abstract A mobile technology (M-Tech) pilot for the Zambian Food Reserve Agency This pilot tests an electronic replacement to the paper-based forms used traditionally by the FRA. The pilot covers information on quantity of maize purchased and stored temporarily at collection points, quantities being shipped to the district depot, quantity and quality arriving at the depot, and feed-back to collection points. Data entry is done on customised and automated Excel spreadsheets on Android-powered tablets. The spreadsheets are synchronised daily with a cloud-based master copy, and a customised dashboard is available at the district depot and national FRA headquarters. In this pilot, we test the technology, hardware and software, the required users’ skills and the overall useability of the solution. • What is the technology being used? a) Device(s): Samsung Galaxy Tab 7” b) Service delivery: Web based synchronisation over mobile network c) Format of content delivery: Customised and automated spreadsheets d) Platform: Android and MS Excel • Specific challenge(s) addressed within the field of agriculture and rural development: Purchase and stock management for a national strategic reserve requires a rapid flow of accurate information that is impossible to achieve with current paper-based forms. This pilot tests the assumption that real-time (or near-real-time) flow of data from rural collection points to central depots and back for timely quality feed-back, will allow the FRA to improve its processes and procedures towards better quality of maize in store, reduced food losses and improved financial management. This approach would be equally adapted to large private sector purchases in the commodity sector.
  3. 3. Maize in Zambia
  4. 4. Smallholder maize production with quantities purchased by the FRA: 2,500,000 90% Small Holder Production FRA Purchase Tonnes of Maize 70% % purchased by FRA 2,000,000 80% 60% 1,500,000 50% 40% 1,000,000 30% 20% 500,000 10% 0 0% 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
  5. 5. Losses FRA procures up to1.5 million tonnes of maize 30% losses
  6. 6. Pilot project • • How does the FRA lose this much maize? What can be done about it?
  7. 7. FRA operations SCP • • • • SCP SCP Satellite storage • • • • • Community ownership Improved facilities • Cleaning area • Fence Successful fumigation Improved checks Improved Stock Taking Depot storage District Depot SCP Transport to Depot SCP • • Farmers only (traders directly to depot) Compulsory sieving Quick quality checks at purchase Planned daily intake (raffle?) Province Management & Monitoring • • Improved information flow Decentralised responsibilities Province Timely information (SMS) Timely movement of bags Farmers bring bags to Satellite • • • • Organised deliveries Improved checks Successful fumigations Improved process for data collection and monitoring National Management & Monitoring • • Improved information flow Decentralised responsibilities Lusaka
  8. 8. Mobile Stock Management Management Information System: Maize purchase points Maize storage depots Real Time information Monitor high stock levels Query missing stock Monitor quality of stock Feedback issues to buyers
  9. 9. M-Tech at SCP
  10. 10. The data
  11. 11. Lessons Learnt Technological issues • Web-based synchronization technology for rural areas • Touch-screen tablet technology usage in rural setting • Support technologies: battery chargers • “Real-time” availability of management information
  12. 12. Lessons Learnt Human Resources issues • Skill levels: email, touch-screen • Motivation to use new technology • Sustainability of approach Requirement for continuous, high level support
  13. 13. Conclusion M-tech Pilot for the Food Reserve Agency • FRA buys and stores large quantities of maize • But experiences high levels of losses • Real-time Stock control, Transport data and Quality data • Android Tablets and sync over mobile network • Cloud based dataset • Technically successful • But very demanding in human resources