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Agro Information System

 

Agro Information System for farmers in rural Zambia and Bangladesh

Since last Fall I have been working closely with CARE International on a project aimed at helping small holder farmers in Zambia and Bangladesh get easier access to agricultural inputs (seed, feed, fertilizer, medicine).  I designed a system using text messaging inputs to help CARE staff monitor and evaluate the performance of small Agro shops to determine which shops need additional training and support to best service local farmers.

Technology infrastructure is quite limited in these locations (generally no computers and limited power), but shop owners all have sms-capable cellphones.  As a result, the system receives sales and client data from shop owners through structured text messages, and walks the sender through any message formatting errors in an automated, iterative fashion.

In addition, the system replaces a large number of unwieldy spreadsheets with an Android app, used by CARE field staff during site visits to help evaluate shop performance.

Finally, the data collected via SMS and Android is presented through a custom website for rapid data analysis and visualization by field staff, program managers, and donors.

Though the system was originally designed for use in Zambia, CARE sees broad potential for its adoption in similar projects.  I am scheduled to travel to Bangladesh to deploy the system later this Spring.

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