data in agriculture

The benefits of a data-driven approach to agricultural development

The benefits of a data-driven approach to agricultural development

Data can play a helpful role in facilitating an integrated approach among agricultural stakeholders. The use and reuse of data allow for better-informed decisions, enable alignment, facilitate linkages, and decrease cost of reporting.

The importance of a data-driven ecosystem approach

There are many stakeholders who can play a role in professionalizing agribusinesses. These include, among others: donors, governments, BDS providers, financial institutions, the private sector, producer organizations, and the agribusinesses themselves. Each stakeholder should play a different role, based on their specialization and expertise. Together, they can facilitate an integrated ecosystem approach, which will lead to the maximum benefits.

The ecosystem requires the integration of all stakeholders for maximum efficiency. The graphic shows all stakeholders: donors, national governments, BDS providers & capacity builders, financial institutions, market & private sector, producer organizations, and professional agribusinesses.

For all stakeholders to work in an integrated way, it’s crucial to have a way to keep everyone on the same page. This ensures that action can be taken in a strategic way. A good way to create this alignment is through the use of data. Data can be used to promote integration and standardization, both of which have multiple benefits.

An integrated approach entails:

  • Multiple partners with clear roles & responsibilities
  • Alignment between all involved stakeholders on aimed results

The benefits of an integrated approach include:

  • Improved communication among stakeholders
  • Reduced risks and costs
  • Increased transparency

standardized approach entails:

  • Agreement on standards & metrics for all projects
  • Use of trusted and scalable tools to gather data

The benefits of a standardized approach include:

  • Greater ability for comparison between projects
  • Benchmarking & aligned M&E
  • Learnings are more easily shared

SCOPEinsight’s tools for data collection

To facilitate easier and more reliable data collection, SCOPEinsight offers five assessment tools, each of which targets a different type of agribusinesses across agricultural value chains. The tools are built on a tried and tested methodology that evaluates the most important success and fail factors of agribusinesses. This methodology is aligned to international standards and financial due diligence processes. The tools are region and crop agnostic, which allows for global benchmarking.

The SCOPEinsight data collection process also has safeguards to ensure data quality. The system has built-in checks and balances. For example, the data is only collected by certified SCOPE assessors, who are trained on how to carry out the assessments properly. The data also goes through a quality control process before being added to the database. The process is also designed to allow for scaling up. It is managed through IT systems that are designed for ease of use and the ability to scale.

The many potential uses of data

Once the agribusiness data has been collected, it can be used in multiple ways. This increases the return on investment of the initial data collection.

Generally, SCOPE data is used for activities that fall into four general categories: a graduation system, reporting & learning, alignment, and linkages.

  1. Graduation system: SCOPE data can be used to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses for stronger capacity building.
  2. Reporting & learning: SCOPE data can help track progress and impact for an intervention or approach. The learnings can be used for future projects, so it is possible not to start from scratch next time.
  3. Alignment: SCOPE data can keep partners aligned, for example through project KPIs or the use of standards.
  4. Linkages: SCOPE data can increase transparency and bring down costs and risks for market and financial linkages.
The graphic shows data as connected to the four categories. Each has activities listed. For graduation system, the activities are TA guidance and graduation. For reporting & learning, the activities are value chain and M&E. For alignment, the activities are project KPIs and standards. For linkages, the activities are market linkages and financial linkages.

The benefits of an integrated, data-driven approach

If the stakeholders use the same standards and data, there are many possible benefits. When all stakeholders, including donors and funders, are aligned on which data to use, it leads to improved communication, better linkages and increased value.

Each stage of the approach leads to benefits for the project members. These benefits lead to a stronger, more successful, and more impactful project. And since the approach reuses the same data for different purposes, it increases the value and returns on investment of the initial data collection.

A scalable, data-driven approach leads to many benefits for all involved stakeholders. Data-driven insights lead to trustworthy data collection, different uses of data including project & impact reporting, and providing online benchmarking & analysis of the data. An integrated approach leads to decreased fragmentation between approaches and building bridges between different stakeholders. Stakeholder benefits include increased transparency of needs and risks, overall decrease on costs, and less fragmented approaches, leading to increased impact.

Are you interested in taking a data-driven approach for your agricultural development work? Contact us today to learn how we can help you use data to reach your goals.

This article was originally posted by SCOPEinsight.