Module 2: Input Management
TMP Systems has developed a tool in collaboration with Bonsucro to help farmers to apply inputs more efficiently. Current crop management tools are prohibitively expensive, particularly for small farmers. This reduces their impact significantly. This tool addresses that dysfunction in the agricultural system, starting with a focus on sugar.
Managing chemical inputs as well as water application improves the productivity of crops and reduces the risk of crop loss. For example, 35% of pre-harvest crops are lost to pests and crops receiving the correct application of fertilizer, chemicals and water (irrigation) can increase their yield by up to 90%.
Benefits of digital Input Management
- Accurate monitoring of stock levels
- Field specific input tracking
- Trend analysis to refine best practices
- Opportunity to view input levels spatially to assist management decisions
What is the Input Management Module
The Input Management Module is composed of software and guidance that unlocks the power of Android devices as data collection and management tools, or Field Monitoring Systems (FMS). Specifically, it includes:
- Input data collection framework (including templates and software for easy adaptation)
- Training materials (on using relevant features of the FMS)
- Dashboard for easy, near-real time visualization in GIS format
This module has now been tested and improved at 5 sites across 5 countries in Southern and East Africa. It has been effective in helping farmers to record and manage input use so that they can identify efficiencies and mitigate risks. It has also helped them to prepare sustainability reports quickly and accurately. Good input management systems also help farmers, mills and their supply chain partners to report against a range of sustainability standards:
How will the Module deliver impact?
The information above demonstrates the potential value of the Input Management module for plantations and farmers, particularly smallholder farmers. Although the module could be used by any type of production system, large and small-scale, the module is most relevant to outgrowers.
For successful roll-out of this Input Management module, we need help from other supply chain actors to ensure that farmers can tap into the following positive impacts:
- Reduced expendience on inputs
- Improved output levels and quality
- Lower risk of environmental and social problems
- Easier and more comprehensive reporting processes
Support needed to implement
If mills and brands / traders can support financially the relatively inexpensive installation process for this module, the module could be scaled quickly and with immediate impact. A major advantage of this Input Management module over competitors is that it’s running costs are very low, it can use any Android device already in the field and that it can integrate smoothly with existing data management systems like CanePro, Planahead or similar GIS and spreadsheet based management tools. Support needed for each production site would be:
- Adapting the module to suit local conditions and requirements, particularly with regard to ease of use in-field and integrating data outputs with existing management systems
- Using provided material to training scouts, supervisors and the local IT manager / local IT service providers
- Using provision of extra hardware, like smart phone devices or tablets, to increase data collection capacity
- Hosting workshop and any follow up visits