Rikolto's Knowledge Exchange: Where are we now with data?

Rikolto's Knowledge Exchange: Where are we now with data?

in News
Maria Serenade Sinurat
Maria Serenade Sinurat
Communication Coordinator

Rikolto and Akvo held a knowledge exchange session in Bali, on Friday (26/4) with a theme “How Can Data Support Sustainable Agriculture Practices in Indonesia?” The event brought together NGOs, researchers and agri-tech companies working on the agriculture sector, to discuss opportunities and challenges to ensure that data brings value to smallholder farmers.

Knowledge exchange is a Rikolto’s biannually learning event. This round, we teamed up with Akvo, a Netherland-based not-for-profit foundation that creates open source, internet and mobile software and sensors. Three speakers from Rainforest Alliance (Eldo Soplantila), Rikolto (Hani Sulastri Hamid) and Akvo (Ima Puspita Sari) shared to an audience of 20 people at Rumah Sanur how their organisations have used data. Participants from Rikolto, Akvo, Rainforest Alliance, ICCO, INOBU, TRIPPER, Kopernik, AgUnity, Hawaii University, Sustainability Tech, Kalimajari Foundation and Saint Gallen University attended the event.

Eldo, Senior Training Specialist of Rainforest Alliance (RA) told the audience about what certification is and how data and digitalisation can benefit farmers and improve farming management. Rainforest Alliance is an NGO working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. They launched a sustainable forestry certification program in 1989 to encourage market-driven and environmentally management of forests, tree farms and forest resources. Based on RA’s experience, Eldo said that data can help farmers in certification processes.

To obtain a Rainforest Alliance (RA) certification, farmers have to demonstrate and show evidence that they comply to RA’s sustainability requirements. These requirements cover four main aspects: management, Good Agriculture Practices, social and working conditions, and environment. In order to meet all of the requirements, farmers have to improve their capacities and adopt sustainable practices. Hence, Eldo see certification as an advocacy tool. “Farmers are involved and trained throughout the certification process. They learn why certification is important and with an obtained knowledge, they can advocate their needs,” Eldo said.

Agung Widi, Director of Kalimajari Foundation supported the notion that certification is an advocacy tool. Drawing on her experience working with cocoa farmers in Jembrana District, Bali, she said that certification processes have totally transformed farmers. “In Jembrana, we witness how farmers have progressed due to their involvement in certification processes. It is beyond better prices, but also empowering farmers to have better working conditions, better position in the value chain. It is about building trust, “ she said.

The second speaker, Rikolto PLA Coordinator Hani Sulastri Hamid, told the audience that Rikolto collected data through Farmers Survey in 2017. Data collected so far have been used for monitoring and evaluation purposes. From her experience, Hani said there are still challenges to collect and share data strategically to public. More collaboration and innovation are needed to ensure that data can really benefit farmers. “We are open to collaboration from other NGOs, institutes and agencies on how we can anayse data and share it to wider audience,” she said.

The three-hour discussion was also a good opportunity for NGOs to learn from each other and to reflect on their approaches and strategies in using data. One of the participants, Micah Fisher, a researcher from the University of Hawaii said that the learning session is useful to ensure that data collection can benefit farmers. He noticed that all organisations have the same interest, which is using data to support farmers' livelihood through sustainable agriculture. He hopes to see more collaborative learning sessions taking place in a future.

"The learning session was a good opportunity to meet and get to know other organizations, companies and communities who share the same vision in agriculture. It only shows that everyone is contributing positively towards smallholder farmers with their own respective data processes and is open towards collaborative efforts in the future."

Ima Puspita Sari Project Manager - Akvo

"Many organizations, such as NGOs, research institutes, governments, and private sector collect data from farmers. But who gets the benefits of harvesting these data? This is what prompted Rikolto to invite various organizations to share their experiences regarding data collection and digitalization. This learning session is useful for brainstorming together and ensuring that data collection becomes an effort that can benefit farmers. From the implementation of this activity, it appears that all organizations have the same interest, which is data in support of farmers' livelihood through sustainable agriculture. This collaborative learning session should be definitely conducted regularly."

Hani Sulastri Hamid Planning, Learning & Accountability Coordinator - Rikolto

"It is very important to exchange knowledge, share and learn among stakeholders. And that’s what we did today in a great session facilitated by Rikolto and Akvo. Talking about data to support Sustainable Agriculture can be very interesting and useful. Coming from a certification program it was a great opportunity to share how Rainforest Alliance contributes to a better farm management system using technology and digital-based tools. Hopefully this network we’ve built today will sustain."

Eldo Soplantila Senior Training Specialist - Rainforest Alliance