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Farmer contracting application
Farmer contract

New mobile-based farmer contracting application

  • Safeena Kassoo

Better Globe Forestry is transitioning to a more advanced farmer contracting application that is now mobile based and equipped with a back office. It covers the farmer registration module, including:

A Swahili word for a meeting of community members.
Suitable assessment
This is a standard assessment of a farmer done by the agroforestry agent on a predesigned checklist. The farmer suitability for the program is based on the results on this checklist after the field assessment. If a farmer gets below 60 marks, they do not qualify to be enrolled into the program.
An attachment to the initial contract signed by a farmer as a documentation for extension in planting by the farmer. This is used to avoid having to draft another contract for an existing farmer because contracts have different and unique numbers generated by the system.
  • Baraza attendance by farmers
  • Assessment of farmer suitability
  • Contracting of suitable farmers
  • Group creation and official registration
  • Addendums or extension into the program by existing farmers

This means that information in the field about the farmers captured on the mobile devices is immediately accessible by the back office. The beauty of this system is that progress is monitored in real time, which makes it easy to adjust plans if necessary, and there is possibility of immediate review of farmer information for non-conformance, hence faster correction of mistakes done by recruiters in the field.

The contracts are also accessible from the back office, and they are stored in the Cloud to be printed, after review for witnessing by the area chief or the LC1 (for Uganda) and remittance of a final copy to the farmer. Better Globe Forestry stores the final soft copy in its farmers database. With the new system, there is no loss of data because it is captured on the mobile devices and synced to the server. And in the back office, reports about farmers can be generated, e.g. the legally constituted groups they belong to, members of groups, community representatives, chiefs, and all the locations where we’ve expanded.

How the process works

After organizing a baraza with the help of area chief, Better Globe Forestry attends the baraza and records details of the farmers in attendance: (the location, sub location, farmer name, the ID number of the farmers, thumb print, copy of ID if available, area of the farmers’ farms, number of trees a farmer is willing to plant). Individual farm checks by the agroforestry agents are done to evaluate the suitability of the farmer to join the program. If eligible, the farmer is formally contracted. It is then the responsibility of agroforestry agents to count the remaining living trees each farmer has and communicate the number to be gapped (replaced). For this, they have the coordinated help of community and farmer group representatives. This is to ensure we have checks at multiple levels, to enhance data accuracy.

Manually registering a contract farmer the old ways

The old tedious way of registering a new partner farmer is about to change.

With the previous application process, the process of collecting data and other necessary information took up to a week. In addition to being tracked in real time, this system especially impressive, since these processes were all being completed manually a year ago. The farmers contracting application at completion will have all the four core modules/activities that encompass the Better Globe Forestry farmers program for both Kenya and Uganda, namely:

  • Registration — this is what we have now described as above
  • Seedling production
  • Seedling distribution
  • Monitoring and evaluation
Farmer contract app
Farmer contract app
Farmer contract app

Key differences between manual and digital application

  Manual contracting Digital contracting
1 Slower, as data was entered in manual forms then letter manually transferred to excel Information immediately input in the devices and synced to server
2 Tedious to check for mistakes in hard copy Easy to check for mistakes by reviewing supervisor
3 Difficult to manipulate data to generate reports Easy to manipulate data to get reports in the back office
4 Takes longer for all the actors to access information for use Faster in terms of information sharing, as it can be accessed in the back office immediately after its uploaded
5 Contracts can only be stored manually in files which is an obsolete document management system Contracts generated areas stored in the server and can be generated at any time there is need
6 Most farmers had difficulty signing on the manual contracts because they do not know how to write Use of thumb print makes it easy and faster
7 Thousands of contracts had to be signed by Better Globe Forestry personnel taking away precious time for forestry work Digital signatures set in the system took away this task and hence we can now concentrate on tree planting and other key activities

Application progression

The new application has simplified and improved the previous system and is continually improving. The second phase of the application development concerns seedling distribution, which is still being managed manually. The number of seedlings issued is based on a list generated by the Finance Director with names of the contracted farmers indicating the number of seedlings they had signed for in the contract. The last phase of the application development is monitoring and evaluation, which will replace the current method of collecting data and recording manually on a monthly basis, where planning is then done for replanting within the same year.

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