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Koeerü’s Market-Oriented Agriculture Platform Selected for Development by JICA’s Open Africa Innovation Challenge

Background to the Solution Development

The SHEP approach (Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion) has been confirmed to be an effective method for actively and proactively mitigating information asymmetry and motivating farmers to become more self-reliant. However, many farmers have no experience in conducting market surveys, and when they do start, they are at a loss to choose which markets to visit, and even when they do conduct surveys, they tend to rely on the information provided by buyers without confirming it in detail or judging its authenticity. In the future, if farmers can share information on market surveys and actual sales results within farmer groups and with farmer groups in neighboring regions, they will be able to properly identify market opportunities in neighboring regions and plan and conduct market surveys in a realistic and concrete manner.

With this in mind, TANSHEP, the current five-year SHEP promotion program being run in Tanzania, sought a solution through the JICA-sponsored Africa Open Innovation Challenge to (1) collect and store market research results from farmers who have mastered the SHEP approach, and (2) to share information within farmer groups and with farmer groups in other regions to increase the overall effectiveness of the SHEP approach. As a result of the challenge, Koeerü’s platform development idea was selected.

Outline of the Platform (Japanese-Only)

Koeerü’s successful bid includes proposing to build a system that will streamline the process of market research conducted by Tanzanian farmers, from data collection and linking existing marketplace data, to centralized data management, data sharing, and utilization.

(1) Data Collection

The system will allow Tanzanian farmers to efficiently collect market information, including market prices and needs, and upload all data to a centralized server.

(2) Data Integration

The platform will include a mechanism for Tanzanian farmers to upload to a centralized server existing marketplace data available to them to understand the market.

(3) Centralized Data Management

There will be a mechanism for managing the data collected from either (1) or (2).

(4) Data Sharing

Users will be able to share centrally managed data with others easily.

(5) Data Utilization

Centrally managed data will be accessible in an easy to use form.

Features of the Platform

The platform will have the following 5 features

(1) A Design-Thinking Approach

Koeerü incorporates a Design Thinking approach in the development of all of its solutions, including this platform. A Design Thinking approach starts with empathy and understanding the current situation through design research (interviews and observations of users and experts). An MVP is then developed as a prototype to fill in the gap between the current issues and the ideal solution, and is then subjected to a proof-of-concept (POC) test.

(2) Agile Development

In developing this platform, we will adopt an agile development method, from the development of a prototype MVP (minimum viable product) based on design research to customized development based on the results of POC (proof-of-concept) experiments. Unlike a waterfall method (a development method in which the requirements and design are worked out in detail before the project starts and development proceeds in one large cycle), an agile development method repeats the development process of “plan → design → implement → test” in smaller cycles of functional units. This allows for a flexible response to factors that cannot be grasped at the time of design, such as Tanzania’s unique environment and user needs, which will be revealed through design research and POC experiments.

(3) Inclusiveness

In developing this platform, Koeerü will create a solution that will enable all TANSHEP target users (farmers, buyers, etc.) to participate and benefit from the platform, regardless of their literacy skills, the digital devices they own, or their experience in market research.

(4) A SHEP Approach

In developing this platform, we will design it in consideration TANSHEP’s SHEP approach. Specifically, we will develop a mechanism to optimize the ROI (cost-effectiveness) of the data collection process, from the collection of market survey data by farmers and its sharing with other users, to the selection of target crops and matching with buyers based on the results of market surveys. In the functional requirements of each system, we will consider factors that continuously enhance intrinsic motivations from the perspective of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which the SHEP approach emphasizes.

The SHEP Approach (From the JICA website)

(5) Survey for Good

Koeerü’s mission is to build “Survey for Good”, a data platform that gives voice to all stakeholders involved and that also solves social problems. In TANSHEP, in order to optimize the effectiveness of the SHEP approach, and to change the mindset of Tanzanian farmers from “making and selling” to “making to sell,” it is necessary to build a platform in which not only Tanzanian farmers but also farmer extension workers, buyers, government agencies, and JICA, can participate. Specifically, there should be a function to support farmers who actually collect the data (e.g., a function to upload the data collected by farmers who do not have smartphones), a function to manage the collected data, and an admin function that can be operated by the stakeholders themselves.

Image of Survey for Good (Japanese Only)

Conclusion

The creation of this platform is a service that combines Koeerü’s design thinking-based software development and global research solutions. If you have any questions regarding this service, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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