Unlocking the Potential of Digital Agriculture
How SMS Integrity is using big data to create value across the supply chain
Farmers were the original innovators in agriculture, but as the ecological footprint of humankind expands, their capacity to address the myriad challenges shrinks. Since most farmers in the world are subsistence farmers, it is vital to increase the profitability of their farms. ECOM and SMS understand that digitalization is the key to realizing sustainable agriculture and paving the farmer’s way toward economic liberation.
With this belief and the number of farmers joining the program increasing at a rapid pace, the necessity of an inhouse, integrated source of intelligence was urgent. The Sustainability Management Services (SMS) therefore created SMS Integrity (SMSi), a farmer oriented digital platform with the initial purpose of gathering and organizing farmers’ data in an efficient way to be able to provide them with services and products tailored to their needs. Since its launch, 8 years ago, it has been implemented in 16 countries, more than 350 thousand farmers were registered, and over 370 thousand hectares mapped. It now offers a diverse range of options from farmers’ profile to environmental and child labor risk assessment and a continuous improvement of the tool is secured by the new components regularly added to perfect its effectiveness.
Transforming the supply chain from root to tip
SMS Integrity can be described as a program management tool that automates data collection for field staff and provides a platform from which clients can access key data about their suppliers.
By demonstrating the origin of produce, greater trust is built between customers and consumers. In fact, SMSi is able to use big data to connect all the players in this ecosystem with the shared objective of creating sustainable farming communities.
SMS understands it is critical to have the participation and co-operation of all key supply chain stakeholders, from producer to roasters or chocolate-maker. SMS Integrity is the platform that can arm the entire supply chain with insights that enable them to make better decisions, which can lead to greater profitability. At our fingertips is an abundance of agricultural data, available through satellites, drones and artificial intelligence.
However, the aggregation of the data is only one pillar of successful analysis. SMSi is able to extract actionable data to rural communities and provide greater visibility in the supply chain by crossing macro-level data with its meticulous analysis of farmers’ data. The platform can also solve problems of scale and speed.
Using digital data responsibly
SMSi never ends extending its capability, it has evolved from initially registering each individual farmer to mapping their land, running soil analysis, yield estimates, costs analysis, and much more actions requiring the manipulation of ever more data.
“Digital data is the fuel of the new economy,” said Tadeo Cwierz, Digital Incubator Manager for the ECOM Group. “Now we have data about household, farm, plantation, environmental and social practices, and we can better understand the challenges each farmer has, identify common challenges per regions or communities and propose innovative solutions to them [and] our Business Partners.”
Tadeo acknowledges the importance of including farmers in the feedback loop so they understand how and why SMSi is using their data.
“Responsible and transparent use of the data is a key aspect to ensure long term collaboration with farmers and clients. The final goal is to produce more sustainable cocoa or coffee, and at the same time [allow our clients and farmers] access to markets.”
With growing awareness about major challenges in the supply chain like child labor, deforestation and climate change, clients want to know more about the origin of cocoa or coffee to assess if there is any risk and to address it. SMSi is able to enhance the traceability of the supply chain, thereby providing clients with the information they need.
Bridging the digital divide
Although emerging markets will not benefit immediately from digital agriculture, increasing the number of sustainable and productive farms will lead to more inclusive economies. Ultimately, these technological efficiencies could liberate farmers to pursue further education or training, thereby giving future generations greater access to education and work.
SMS has always put farmers at the forefront of their digital focus, never losing sight of the people, who have so much to gain — and lose — with these technological innovations. In creating SMS Integrity and with the vision of expanding it further, SMS is reinforcing its commitment to the 650,000 farmers they serve across 23 countries, and the many to follow.