Smallholder farmers play a key role in dealing with food security issues. They are responsible for 50% of the wheat production, 60% of the meat production and 75% of the dairy production in the world. The interesting thing is that, by 2020 one billion of these smallholder farmers will be connected to mobile internet. This prospect is very promising. Big data has the potential provide innovative and effective solutions and its use is rising quickly in the agricultural sector. The question is, how can we make smallholder farmers benefit from this data revolution?
Using (cellphone) data to provide commodity price information for smallholder farmers in Indonesia
Imagine a female smallholder farmer in Indonesia, 45+ years old, illiterate with no means of transportation. She has got a chicken to sell.
On what market will she get the best price for the chicken?
The What's The Price app will tell her where the price for chicken is the highest.
Indonesia also happens to be one of the most tweeting countries in the world. A surprisingly big amount of data about food prices is being shared on social media. The World Food Program has been able to calculate realtime food prices with these tweets in a quite accurate way. The ‘What’s the price’ app deals with this information. It provides a service to smallholder farmerss: what is the best location for them to sell their product? By combining market prices in the direct surroundings of the farmer with geolocation and accessibility of different markets it enables farmers to make an informed decision.
The app will show the farmer the top 3 prices in the nearby markets. Green is the best price, red the lowest. The colors show the difficulty or time to get to the specific market, taken in account the means of transportation (in this case by foot) Green is easy, red is difficult, completed with a number of walking icons to show the time needed to travel to the market. When the farmer is tapping on a market it will show a picture of the market so there is no need to read the adress, the farmer will recognise the market. The app will not dictate where the farmer should go. Maybe there ara other factors that will play a role in the decision to go to a certain market.
And this is only the beginning. The app now only focuses on livestock, but can easily be extended to other commodities or a combination thereof. Other data sources can also be feeded into the app in order to calculate food prices more accurately and on a bigger scale. There are even more possibilities ones the app starts generating data. Both by engaging (big) data and generating new data the ‘What’s the price’ app aims to contribute to the development of data-driven and user-centred solutions for food security issues.
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The ‘What’s the price’ app was developed during the Data4Food Challenge, organized by the Centre for Innovation (Leiden University – The Hague Campus) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
With the rise of new technologies we are creating and accessing more data than ever before. It has been estimated that 90% of existing data was created in the last two years alone, and mobile phone access is increasing worldwide. Data are increasing in volume, quality, and sources: this is the data revolution. It is an unprecedented source of information for novel ideas, theories and strategies.
Efforts to ensure that this revolution is effectively mobilised have gained a prominent place in the international development agenda, particularly in light of the new Sustainable Development Goals set out for 2030. Knowledge derived from (big) data can enable public and private sector, academia, and civil society make more real-time and informed decisions.
In light of this, the Data4Food Initiative seeks to bring together bright minds that can drive the innovation that could change the way we feed the world. During the Data4Food Challenge in September 2015, multidisciplinary teams explored and developed the potential for data-driven innovation that can enhance food security in the light of the emergence of Big Data and related technologies.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Center for Innovation
Theo van de Sande
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
data expert and problem owner
Kimmo de Reuver
research and UX
Institute for Environmental Studies
research and testing
Dutch Innovation Factory
software engineering supervisor
Student Leiden University
Student The Hague University