Madang, Papua New Guinea
Madang Cocoa Company Limited (MCCL)
Funding Mechanism: LASER (Long-term Assistance and Services for Research) PULSE (Partners for University-Led Solutions Engine)
Funder: Australia Direct Aid Program (Ghana)
September 2019 – Ongoing
100 AgUnity phones deployed to farmers, processors + MCCL
AgUnity App V.3
3.5 million smallholder cocoa farmers globally (International Institute for Sustainable Development)
Connecting small-holder farmers to processors and buyer digitally through immutable record keeping.
Madang Cocoa Company Limited (MCCL) works with a range of cocoa farming cooperatives spread over the greater Madang area. Literacy rates, technology usage and phone possession rates among almost 2,000 farmers within these cooperatives are low. Little of the processes how cocoa beans are traded, processed and stored among local farmers and processors are standardized and complicate MCCL's efforts to enhance the cocoa's quality and therefore farmers livelihoods.
Value chain inefficiencies due to differences in processing and handling commodities can lead to significant losses at a larger scale. Overcoming these challenges oftentimes requires deep analysis or business processes, the value chain and its involved parties as well as the implementation of new procedures, workflows and the introduction of technology.
The Program is part of Dubai Expo Live with a mission to showcase innovations that can advance the pace of progress and inspire a more inclusive and prosperous future. To support this, the program aimed ata building a proof of concept of integrated platform that allows collaboration among smallholder farmers, and traceability through the unchangeability of AgUnity App’s record keeping system, thanks to blockchain technology it uses.
During the Pre-Deployment Preparation phase, the AgUnity team in collaboration with MCCL management identified the business processes to be targeted and altered throughout the project. M&E standards were developed and local a local field officer was onboarded and trained to deploy AgUnity devices and technology. Further outreach team members (AgChampions) from different communities were onboarded as well.
The AgUnity platform and accounts for individual participants were adapted to local business processes needs before deployment of devices. The training for farmers was conducted at 5 different cooperatives, partially in very remote areas. A total of 100 devices were deployed to farmers. The deployment was characterized by challenges concerning logistics and communications due to remote locations of deployment.
M&E standards and assessment standards were developed during the initial human-centred design process. Now it is time to let the technology platform gather valuable commodity trading data that will help MCCL and cooperatives as well as individual farmers to optimize their processes.
AgUnity started by conducting meetings with country partners to establish process maps, key stakeholders, product users and other supply chain information. Site visits were undertaken to identify any context specific issues.
During development phase AgUnity set up a cloud-platform secured in Blockchain, loaded relevant updates to the AgUnity App and assigned a device to each actor in the supply chain. Training manuals for the products were developed and distributed during this phase.
Where required, assistance was provided to farmers and processors in the process of finding buyers, communicating supply chain and quality assurance improvements, which in turn returned higher prices for the commodity.
Together with MCCL's Founder & Chairman Judah Waffi and CEO Kepas Rakop, the AgUnity team has established a resilient working group in a challenging environment to be implementing technology. With the support of our local representative and Field Officer Samson Maim, we are working on further expanding the operation and deployment of more devices. Until now, only 100 farmers from 5 cooperatives out of about 2000 farmers in total that MCCl works with, have been equipped with AgUnity technology. It is planned to include all farmers in the future.
Due to the low bandwith access in remote areas in Papua New Guinea, AgUnity has worked on a solution to bring connectivity to previously disconnected areas. The "Coop Kit" has enhanced signal strength and can be installed anywhere with the support of solar energy to provide internet connection and charging stations to remote communities.
A Withstanding challenging logistical circumstances, our team on the ground has done remarkable work in collecting user data, connecting with cooperatives and their members including hour-long 4-wheel rides in the greater Madang area, and deploying devices to 100 remote farmers from 5 different cocoa cooperatives within the MCCL network. We have trained local representatives called "AgChampions" who volunteer to support in working closely with farmers on technical issues, software updates and required additional training in the future.