Developers propel ICT among LATAM farmers
Things can always go a step further, and the Argentineans at the NGO Cultural Association for Integral Development (ACDI by its Spanish initials), can surely attest to that. In August of 2003, and with funding from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the NGO decided to promote traceability among small farmers to facilitate their entry into the export value chain. Two years later, after an investment of 1 million USD and the work of 40 developers, they realized that they also had a tool to change the entire management of the producers.
“We saw that we could impact beyond the certification provided by the traceability. Furthermore, no one was focusing on this market so we decided to launch our own company” recalls Maurice Maresca, president of the Trazar Foundation, a social cooperation enterprise that emerged from the project.
The solution was simple: make use of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to develop a software for mobiles or PCs, which uses one antenna to read the RFID-chip carried by each animal, and another one to read a central server with a database system that provides relevant information: sex, race, pedigree, destination or origin, medical treatments received, weight, diet, insemination, abortions, among others. The base updates the data collected in the field in real-time. This way, the farm owners, auditors, and even customers can check the quality and quantity status of the available supply.
According to Trazar, the system has allowed producers to plan activities by sharing information between colleagues in order to evaluate the best practices, which have resulted in a system of continuous improvement and an open and collaborative knowledge system.
At least the results were encouraging. Five years after the operation began, MIF auditors verified that the system users had achieved a 13% increase in price per kilogram of meat, an increase in efficiency and in the average cattle stock between 13.7% and 14.7%, an increase in skilled labor, and even the opening of a butcher’s shop by local farmers.
With credentials like these, the system was soon replicated in different provinces of Argentina and also used in other branches of farming. Programs like Frutic by the Citrus Growers Association of Concordia and the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA by its initials in Spanish), and other similar programs for the buffalo breeders in the north of the country, and the olive industry in the northwest are already in operation.
But perhaps the most important achievement has been to be requested to implement the program model internationally. This year, the system was implemented in Nicaragua, the largest livestock breeding country in the Caribbean, under the name Trazar.Nic. The system was implemented upon the request of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Nicaragua (APEN), in order to win new foreign markets. Trazar will be applied by 330 producers and will register about 30,000 cattle. This will require an investment of over $374,000 USD of which $200,000 USD will be provided by MIF.
For further information, you can access the Case Study on the Impact Evaluation of the Traz.ar program in Santa Fe, Argentina, by clicking here.
TRAZAR INSTITUTIONAL VIDEO
Juan can be reached at juan.dalmasso(at)gmail.com