Our farmers have benefited economically from [this technology]. By knowing their actual farm sizes, our farmers can better plan their finances and save costs through negotiation with service providers and making purchases based on what they need.
How GIS Is Supporting 60,000 Ginger Farmers in Nigeria
Reacting to the supply chain crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and wanting to ensure long-term resiliency in Nigeria's agricultural output, Agrolog Limited, an innovative Nigeria-based agribusiness, partnered with the Mastercard Foundation in August 2021 to support 60,000 small-scale ginger growers, primarily women and young people, in Kaduna State.
Agrolog Limited in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation used mobile geographic information systems to help 60,000 smallholder farmers in increase ginger production in Nigeria.
As part of a collaborative project to increase ginger production among 60,000 smallholder farmers in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria, Agrolog Limited needed a technological solution to accurately capture and map field data and size to determine the most efficient quantities of fertilizer, herbicides, and ginger planting materials (rhizomes).
Agrolog staff used mobile geographic information system (GIS) apps to map individual farmland and collect production-related data. Staff then shared data online with decision-makers via GIS dashboards to determine how much was distributed to each grower.
With ArcGIS software, Agrolog improved the data integrity of the project and cut fertilization costs by 9 percent, giving it the ability to support an additional 1,818 farmers.
"The ginger value chain, if well harnessed, can transform livelihoods for thousands of families by offering a steady and sustainable income stream," said Dr. Manzo Maigari, managing director of Agrolog Limited, in a press release.
Nigeria is the second-largest producer of ginger in the world. In 2018, Agrolog began its work developing the ginger value chain in Nigeria, from planting the crop to getting it to consumers. The 2021 partnership with Mastercard Foundation provided materials, capacity, and structural support to boost ginger production and increase work opportunities for women and young people in Nigeria.
"Ginger farming and processing for products such as ginger spices, powder, oil, medicine, tea, and tonic confectioneries hold massive opportunities for smallholder farmers, young people, and women across the entire value chain," continued Maigari.
The Empowerment of Women and Youths Through the Ginger Value Chain a two-year collaborative project involving 12 local governments across southern Kaduna State and 60,000 ginger farmers to cultivate 0.5 hectares of ginger each, for a total of 30,000 hectares.
"What is unique about this project is our end-to-end value chain approach, which takes care of every node including land preparation, planting, harvesting [and] processing, packaging, haulage, storage, and market access," said Maigari.
The goal is to guarantee greater income for farmers and enhance their livelihood. "This approach helps strengthen the ginger market system to sustainably serve many farmers at scale beyond the project life span," said Maigari.
Vital to the project was ensuring that growers were using only as much of the supplies as needed in their fields—including fertilizer, herbicides, ginger planting materials (rhizomes), and Aflasafe based on actual rather than estimated farm sizes. Doing so would prevent waste and promote environmental sustainability. In the past, Agrolog collected farm size information by having the farmers use manual tools, such as measuring tape or their footsteps, to collect perimeter data. Then, the farmers' data was shared with Agrolog using paper-based systems that produced unreliable data, created verification challenges, and made it difficult to perform analysis.
"Knowing actual farm sizes is extremely important to prevent farmers from overpaying for mechanical land preparation services, " said Gerald Umeze, a monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) consultant for Agrolog Limited. "Farmers tend to overstate their farm sizes, so when they hire providers to plow or harrow their farms based on farm size, they end up overpaying."
To measure actual farmland and collect data to determine the amount of the supplies needed to grow the ginger, Agrolog turned to geographic information system (GIS) technology to ensure the project's success.
Agrolog trained teams of extension staff in mobile and online GIS applications, including ArcGIS Survey123, an intuitive formcentric data gathering app that enables users to create, share, and analyze surveys. Extension staff would visit the ginger farms and use ArcGIS Survey123 to accurately map the land and collect information on the farmers' personal details, farm locations, farm ownership, point coordinates of the farms, perimeter shapes, and other production-related data. The collected data was fed into ArcGIS Online, web-based mapping and analysis software as a service. In using both solutions, ginger farm data was accessible to all Agrolog staff working on the project and empowered them to calculate what and how much the farmer needed.
"These tools helped us perform quality checks in real time," said Umeze. "Using the technology, we could detect poorly mapped farms and assign staff to go back and retake the measurements."
Agrolog staff also visualized the data and progress using dashboards created using ArcGIS Dashboards. The dashboards shared farm-related data such as location, size, and ownership of each farm. Agrolog's supervisors also could look at the dashboards to see information on worker assignments and their progress, giving them a real-time view of the quality of work. Project managers used the dashboards to monitor all implementation activities and make decisions on resource support at the farms.
"Using ArcGIS helped us to improve our performance significantly," continued Umeze. "By linking the data collected to ArcGIS Online and setting up a visualization dashboard, the relevant data analysis is performed once, and project managers can visualize the data they need for decision-making."
The goal of the two-year project was to support 60,000 farmers in growing 30,000 hectares of ginger. Within the first year, Agrolog staff supported 20,413 farmers, who planted 9,917 hectares of ginger. In year two, staff have registered more than 40,000 farmers and are currently measuring their farm sizes.
Originally, each farmer in the first year was supposed to receive three bags of fertilizer, sufficient for the cultivation of half a hectare—61,239 bags total. By using ArcGIS software to gain accurate measurements of the farms, Agrolog staff provided farmers with a more accurate total of 55,785 bags of fertilizer. The 9 percent difference enabled Agrolog staff to reach out to more farmers for the project. The remaining 5,454 bags of fertilizer will be used to support an additional 1,818 farmers in the second year of the program.
"Our farmers have benefited economically from [this technology]," said Umeze. "By knowing their actual farm sizes, our farmers can better plan their finances and save costs through negotiation with service providers and making purchases based on what they need."
Using ArcGIS software created data integrity and refined the quality of data collected, which improved how Agrolog leaders communicated progress with their partners at the Mastercard Foundation.
"The fact that our donor is happy with the quality of our data is crucial, as this could result in extra funding in the future and pave the way for more collaboration with other donors and projects," explained Umeze. "Already, Agrolog is beginning to attract interest from other donors who are interested and impressed with our digitally enabled project implementation and results measurement process."
Agrolog staff plan to continue using ArcGIS software for this project. They also hope to expand ArcGIS use to reposition Agrolog warehouses and distribution points for more effective coverage and to reduce the distance between farmers and the supplies they need to grow their crops.
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