What would it take to increase agricultural productivity?

Summary

IFAD and the Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries are using digital data systems to deliver grant support to smallholder farmers more quickly and efficiently.

Description

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for achieving zero hunger has a target to double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers by 2030. In pursuit of this goal, the Matching Grants Programme (MGP) supports smallholder farmers and fishers through a combination of technical, business, and financial assistance. The Ministry is working to get grants to applicants quickly through a rigorous and efficient approval process which maximises the value of the investments being made by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

Real-world challenges

There is massive demand for Matching Grants. Nearly 3,300 Samoan farmers and fishers registered for the first round—over 1.5% of the country’s population. The approval process requires each registrant to be verified through a field visit. Initially, field officers were collecting field visit data on paper, then coming back to the office to manually input data into excel sheets. This system proved cumbersome; many officers did not have the energy to do hours of data entry following long days of field visits. The process risked human error and lost paperwork.

Real-world solutions

Working closely with the Ministry’s field officers, we designed and rolled out a digital tool that converted the paper form to a simple digital template. The tool took user needs into account: it worked on mobile devices; operated offline, allowing data entry in the field; and was GIS-integrated, linking each entry to a physical location (useful where many applicants did not have official addresses). Most importantly, we worked closely with field teams to train them in how to use the digital form—and with head office colleagues to help them manage and analyse the data it generated.

Results

The tool has halved time spent with each farmer on field visits and sped up the process overall, enabling quicker disbursal of grant support. It has improved productivity among field officers. It has also created a more rigorous and functional data set for Ministry analysis and decision making.

Digital tools have helped save farmers and field officers the equivalent of 130 working days.
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What would it take to increase agricultural productivity?
What would it take to increase agricultural productivity?
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