Since November 2018, Development Gateway (DG) has led the Visualizing Insights on Fertilizer for African Agriculture (VIFAA) program, a four-year partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. VIFAA is working to address the supply, demand, and use of fertilizer data at both country and regional levels. To do so, we’re focusing on cross-stakeholder collaboration, filling key data gaps, co-designing dashboards, and supporting data use change management across key focus countries in Africa.
First Steps to Understanding Kenya’s Data Use
Back in February, DG’s Nairobi-based staff led a scoping study to understand Kenya’s data supply and demand; identify use cases and potential for policy impact; and assess stakeholder interest and opportunities for collaboration. Early on, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Irrigation expressed interest in participating in VIFAA, and our assessment identified opportunities for strengthening data use in Kenya.
Capitalizing on VIFAA Opportunity in Kenya
VIFAA Kenya implementation began in April 2019. Across VIFAA, we see cross-stakeholder partnerships as a key entry point to meet country and regional fertilizer needs. In Kenya, we are leveraging these partnerships to co-develop work plans that specifically address key data – and data use – gaps. Our approach to strategic decision-making starts with addressing those data gaps. In consultation with country stakeholders each step of the way, we will also identify data sources and co-design fertilizer dashboards.
In July, the VIFAA Kenya kickoff workshop began building cross-stakeholder partnerships – it brought together fertilizer stakeholders from across national government, private sector, development partners (DPs), and research institutions. Our VIFAA partner Africafertilizer.org (AFO), co-led the workshop with DG.
The workshop objectives included:
- Narrow down Kenya fertilizer data priorities;
- Gather insight on data gaps and brainstorm options for VIFAA to address them;
- Discuss key functionality and tool design to integrate and visualize priority data;
- Identify collaborative next steps.
Figure 1: Building partnerships during the VIFAA Kenya kickoff workshop
To achieve these goals, each day of the kickoff had specific priorities, from which we then drew key findings. We break down each day in the following:
DAY 1: Prioritize Indicators and Collect Use Cases
We employed the Custom Assessment and Landscaping Methodology (CALM) – DG’s approach for developing processes that increase utility and impact of data for decision-making – to guide participants through Day 1. For government, private, and DP sectors, we prioritized 13 “shortlisted” indicators each, that address sector-specific decision making needs. To do so, we cross-considered two variables: usability and feasibility, and identified use cases for each. Participants also suggested we map out extended potential system users (such as farmers and agrovets) to further ensure dashboard relevance.
Day 1 confirmed strong interest for the VIFAA dashboards – participants were engaged, active, and supported data gap identification, further ensuring dashboard use and ownership. We identified that VIFAA should be guided by – and learn from – previous data initiatives that have encountered sustainability challenges, stemming from a lack of ownership, and weak guidelines to enforce data use.
DAY 2: Co-Design the Solution
On Day 2, DG led a wireframing session to guide participants in identifying visualizations for each indicator. Each group clearly identified what visualization would best fit each indicator.
We also co-developed a work plan to identify key stakeholder engagements required to develop a preliminary fertilizer dashboard by this fall. Our work plan includes initial dashboard feedback meetings, and a follow-up to dashboard review – during which we’d also co-design the final dashboards!
Day 2 confirmed the identification of new potential stakeholders – county governments, the Ministry of ICT, the media, farmers, and agro vets. In the next few months, VIFAA will identify when and how best to engage them. Data governance was also highlighted, ensuring that uploaded data is validated and from a trusted source – essential during and beyond implementation.
Figure 2: Dr. Okeyo from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Irrigation speaking at the workshop
After the Workshop, we’ve worked to continue updating our workplan to integrate all workshop findings, set deadlines, and incorporate activities such as defining requirements. We’ll create wireframes, develop dashboard architecture, and continue technical development. Along the way, we will continue co-creating and soliciting feedback on dashboard designs, as well as building essential partnerships across VIFAA. We’ll be posting updates on VIFAA Kenya – and the wider VIFAA program – in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
DG Launches Digital Agriculture Resources Portal to Advance Digital Agriculture in Africa, the Middle East, & Central Asia
DG is pleased to announce the launch of our Digital Agriculture Knowledge Management Library, which is a digital repository of resources detailing digital agriculture best practices. These resources were created as part of our DAS program in order to support individuals and groups across Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia as they advance local and regional agricultural systems through the implementation of digital tools and technologies.
In this blog, DGers Ousmane Koné and Andrea Ulrich explore DG's six step “recipe” for effective data use.
As farmers become more reliant on AgTech, they may find that the AgTech providers controlling these technologies (i.e., companies, nonprofits, and governments) are more integrated than ever before, resulting in a few organizations having unprecedented access to and control of farmers’ data. This dynamic results in positive and negative outcomes for farmers. Therefore, farmers face the paradox of using AgTech and adding value to their work, communities, and food systems while giving large amounts of data to AgTech companies that have, at best, limited plans for protecting farmers’ data. In this blog, we identified recommendations and next steps for AgTech providers on how to ensure that their technology benefits smallholder farmers.