Framed in the lap of the majestic Himalayas, Suvidha (The Society for Upliftment of Villagers and Development of Himalayan Areas) was set up in 2004 as a grassroots level non-governmental organization working in the area of environment and sustainability among marginalized people. SUVIDHA works with small and marginal farmers to help improve their socio-economic conditions by supporting innovative ways of farming, market linkages (both domestic and international), and creating value for the farmer’s produce through certification. The last decade, has however, triggered considerable changes in the organic farming sector in terms of becoming more organized. Moreover, working with marginal farmers who are located across remote areas was bound to become more difficult.
By this time, Suvidha’s work in organizing and strengthening farmer groups had generated a manifold increase in the number of farmer groups. In managing the groups and their transactions, Suvidha was faced with the need to ensure higher levels of transparency, visibility and accountability. Hirdesh Kumar, General Manager-Projects, Suvidha, says that in the past, “all operations concerning the farmers were being done manually. The field staff used to visit the farmers and record the relevant data on paper. In such a scenario, there were greater chances of errors. There should be a more transparent way of recording member-level transactions”. Because of the manual data collection process, the management had further problems because they had to wait for days to get reports about transactions with the farmers. In the absence of a centralised real time information system, they were unable to take important decisions or share information with the policy makers and the government.
As a solution to address this problem, Suvidha decided to deploy the SourceTrace IT system. To begin with, a pilot was jointly conducted in Odisha in the year 2013, which covered 4850 farmers. Satisfied with the results, Suvidha went on to deploy the solution throughout their network. The system would facilitate data collection in the field, while also generating management reports and being a data source for further research and development. Leveraging existing mobile and wireless data networks, it worked even in remote locations where telecommunication infrastructure is minimal or non-existent.
The ESE solution thus provided transparency and visibility to transactions as well as accurate information at near real time. The company now has a way of tracing the produce from field to market. Information on the area of cultivation, both season-wise and crop-wise, is mapped. Digital mapping of farmland and farmer’s profile is also available, and so is data of field personnel and farmer information. Suvidha has cut farmer data collection cost by close to Rs 5 lakh per project by deployment of the SourceTrace platform!
Today, at SourceTrace we’re happy to share our moment of pride and fulfillment, having made it as the cover story in the Food and Beverage Tech Review.
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'Traceability in 2020: Global Scenario with a focus on India'