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The Suvidha of capturing data on the go

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Suvidha cuts farmer data collection cost by close to Rs 5 lakh per project by deployment of the SourceTrace platform

By Express Computer team

Society for Upliftment of Villagers & Development of Himalayan Areas (Suvidha) is engaged in the promotion of organic and sustainable agriculture in the states of Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu  & Kashmir, and Odisha. The organisation has facilitated establishment of around 250 organised grower groups in it’s endeavour to promote regular, sustainable livelihood opportunities for the marginalised tribal and rural farmers, who are engaged in organic farming projects in Odisha.

By the development of innovative ways of farming, Suvidha has been contributing towards the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the farmers. It lends a helping hand to the farmers for minimising uncertainty and to maximising revenue by use of innovative ways of farming and by providing support resources offered by the government.

Suvidha also creates value for the farmer’s produce through certification. It enables market linkages, both nationally and globally, to ensure premium prices. Since organic farming is currently undergoing vast changes for becoming more organised, working with marginal farmers, who are located in remote areas, can be difficult.

Technology for more transparency
Hirdesh Kumar, General Manager-Projects, Suvidha, says that the organisation was motivated by the aim of ensuring higher levels of transparency, visibility and accountability within the Organic Farmers Enterprise. There should be a more transparent way of recording member-level transactions.
“In the past all operations concerning the farmers were being done manually. The field staff used to visit the farmers and record the relevant data on paper. In such a scenario, there were greater chances of errors,” he says.

“As the data collection process was manual, the management had to wait for days before they could get reports about transactions with the farmers. In the absence of a centralised real time information system, the management could not take decision or share information with the policy makers and the government,” he adds.

Kumar says that in order to address the problem, Suvidha decided to deploy an IT system that could facilitate the system of data collection in the field, while also generating management reports and being a data source for further research and development.

SourceTrace way Kumar says, it was back in 2013 that Suvidha started working with SourceTrace to conduct a pilot for its field staff in Odisha. The project covered 4850 farmers.

Suvidha tested the SourceTrace ESE (eServices Everywhere) platform that leverages existing mobile and wireless data networks to allow companies to capture transactional information at the source — even in remote locations where telecommunication infrastructure is minimal or even non-existent.

Venkat Maroju, CEO of SourceTrace, says, “With this platform we have set an industry standard for remote data transaction systems with robust applications that have been deployed in low-bandwidth environments in three continents. Designed for emerging markets with narrowband communications, ESE is optimised to use small data packets and wireless transactions to reduce costs and maximise speed.”

Maroju claims that the ESE platform is easily integrated with most of the standard “Backend Systems”. The ESE platform is designed to meet the server-side security demands of MNCs offering unequaled reliability, real time processing and accurate data recording with a clear audit trail.

He informs that the platform comprises of ESE Remote for flexibility to transmit data using Java-phones, Tablets and Smartphones, ESE Server to manage the visibility and management of global data and remote devices, and ESE Adapter, the middleware for interconnection with existing ‘backend systems’ of the customers.

Kumar says that Suvidha found the SourceTrace ESE Platform to be a perfect fit for its  requirements of  digitisation of various processes involved in the farmer engagement.

“Through mobile technology that can facilitate transactions and transmission of data from remote areas in real time, the platform has the capability of streamlining the data collection from remote areas. It provides the necessary support for management reporting, administrative functions and communication,” Kumar says. He adds that the application allows the staff to capture field-level information of the critical data thus keep the management informed of the status in real time.
“Since the platform is device agnostic, any device can plug and play. In Odisha, we are using the solutions with about six different models of user devices,” Kumar informs.

“The solution supports offline documentation, which means that data can be captured even in case of poor or ill network availability. Once the network becomes available the devices can be connected to the network. The users can work seamlessly in both online and offline mode. Stressing on the security features of the solution, Maroju, points out that the users need not bother about the device as each device is mapped to its user. The users need to login for secure access, which is role based.

Ease to Suvidha
Kumar says that it took them about two weeks to deploy the SourceTrace solution, and they could experience the difference soon after that. Enhanced visibility of the transaction in real time, improving productivity of field staff and their supported organisation was an immediate benefit.

“The solution has helped us reduce the cost of access to farmer information and delivery of services, in terms of time and monetary costs of traveling.. In fact, we are able to reduce cost incurred per project to the tune of Rs 5 lakh,” Kumar says.

He says, “We are now able to obtain timely, accurate farmers information for procurement and disbursement of payments, and trace the produce from the field to market.”

“The solution is designed to meet our specific needs through which we can record and access information of the farm land, number of farmers involved, caste, gender, landholder type, field officer, field assistants, site officer, soil type, climatic conditions, irrigation and all the relevant information required as per the benchmarks.”

Kumar says, Suvidha has been using the solution in five states now and they plan to further their relationship with SourceTrace by using the solution for the CDM (Clean Development Management) project in Uttarakhand.


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