SEATTLE, Washington — Agriculture is one of the most critical sectors of the world economy. With the global population projected to reach 9.7 billion in the next 30 years, finding sustainable means of food production is a crucial front in the fight against poverty and deprivation. While there are many paths forward when it comes to this challenge, from high-tech vertical farming projects to community produce cooperatives, it can be easy to forget the crucial role that family farms and smallholdings occupy in global food production. According to a 2013 report, nearly 70% of the world’s agriculture is produced by individual farms operating on 25 acres of land or less. Small farms are the backbone of global food production. However, over time the growth and integration of the global economy has only made managing such operations more challenging and complex, leading many to struggle with the management of logistics and finances. Recently, new systems and technologies have been developed to tackle this problem. Companies like SourceTrace are empowering farmers with digitization by providing the tools to understand and manage the process of delivering their goods to markets across the globe.
In 2013, SourceTrace set out with the goal of empowering farmers with digitization by providing them with the tools and resources required to maximize efficiency in their own operations and understand how they fit into larger agricultural supply chains. The company accomplished this objective with the development of its DATAGREEN platform, which offers smallholders and farmers an array of resources, ranging from advising services to certification assistance to monitoring and evaluation of production.
Additionally, DATAGREEN also offers an integrated suite of tools for supply chain management specifically designed for the agricultural sector, as well as financial advising services. Over the past seven years, SourceTrace has partnered with producers on several continents to help them drive sustainable results and improve efficiency.
Empowering Cocoa Farmers in West Africa
In 2019, SourceTrace partnered with Cargill Inc., one of the largest distributors of agricultural products in the world, to provide the DATAGREEN platform to its cocoa suppliers across West Africa. Cocoa is one of the primary crops in the region, with countries like Ghana relying heavily on small farms to supply 60% of the nation’s agricultural revenue.
Despite the importance of cocoa in Ghana and other West African nations, small cocoa farmers often struggle to make ends meet and are routinely even more vulnerable by the seasonality of their crop. As part of its “Cargill Cocoa Promise” campaign to promote sustainable and ethical cocoa sourcing in Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana, Cargill utilized SourceTrace’s digital tools and resources to help its suppliers monitor and fortify their crops.
The implementation of SourceTrace’s digital monitoring services has also allowed many farms to achieve UTZ, Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade certification, as occurrences of child labor and other abuses are now easier to identify and prevent.
SourceTrace has employed DATAGREEN to empower farmers with digitization in similar ways across Africa and Asia, with thousands of farms and smallholdings relying on its services and network to manage operations. However, SourceTrace’s network is not available only to farmers. Additionally, the company has pursued multiple partnerships with NGOs and nonprofit research organizations interested in improving sustainable agricultural development around the world.
In a recent partnership with the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, SourceTrace’s services have been instrumental in developing methods for the digitization of dairy farming in the country. Not long ago, bringing digital solutions to places like rural Bangladesh would have been impossible due to the lack of sufficient connectivity. However, as more and more developing countries invest in modern technological infrastructure it is likely that solutions like DATAGREEN will become fundamental to digitizing agriculture and helping small farms feed millions across the globe.
– Matthew Otey