-Digital Database developed to assist farmers with marketing
In an effort to transform the agriculture sector in the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region with Information Communication Technology (ICT), the Region 10 Department of Agriculture, has initiated a digital database system aimed at mapping each farmer’s geographical location, the crops they are sowing, their challenges and progress amongst other things, to provide the necessary support and marketing. Regional Agriculture Officer Deryck Collins, told INFO 10 in an exclusive interview, that the developing of the database is the department’s ‘big-ticket’ project for 2021. It is currently in the first phase which is to initiate farmers’ registration and mapping. At the time of this interview, 561 farmers across the region, were already mapped. These farmers are located in all communities across Region 10 and include kitchen gardeners; traditional, non-traditional and cash crop farmers; livestock and poultry farmers; ground provision farmers and agro-processors. “The focus for 2021 was on service delivery, getting the services to the farmers and we are doing this through ICT, we are creating live data, that will be in real time about all the farmers operating in Region 10,” Collins said.
The data will also be updated every time field officers visit the farmers to determine whether their operation is active or not. In 2022, this data will be transformed into a more reporting database, which will allow for more accurate projections for reaping and more analytical data for reaching market demands. “The database will be able to say which farmer is active or inactive, officers when they visit, will enter a log note that will reference to the observations during the visit. This will allow for a projection based on the information and we will try to have algorithms to generate information that will allow for more effective results.” Based on the information generated from the database, the Department will be able to determine how to plan their budget to be able to satisfy the farmers’ needs, whether it be assistance with pesticides, training, seeds, climate smart techniques ect.
The Department has been striving to make the region more self-sustainable by pushing the ‘return to the soil’ initiative. Large scale farmers are also encouraged to network so as to meet these growing demands both locally and regionally. “One of the essential goals of running such a software, is to map market trends, market trajectory and the supply and demand chain,” Collins explained.
In addition to this database, the Department is also in talks with a German company to develop an App in 2022, which will consolidate all the information needed for a broader e-agriculture drive. The app is expected to determine weather projections, track world and regional market pricing, amongst other things. The Department will also be procuring soil testing equipment and a soil testing mobile laboratory, in an effort to better serve farmers.