Mobile Data Collection Facilitating Agricultural Monitoring for Food Security in Tanzania
The University of Maryland (UMD) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) are building agriculture-monitoring capacity in Tanzania at local and national government through electronic field data collection. This initiative is part of the STARS AgriSense-Africa project. During a workshop for this pilot project held 19th March 2015 at the SUA campus in Morogoro, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives (MAFC), together with SUA and UMD introduced the GeoODK Android Application. This smartphone app allows the efficient collection of field data in electronic format using a smartphone or tablet and submit them to a database on an online server. Among the workshop participants were representatives of the National Food Security Department at MAFC, agricultural officers from the regional and district offices, and selected agricultural extension agents from within the Morogoro region.
GeoODK was developed at UMD and is based on Google’s Open Data Kit (ODK). Electronic data collection forms can be designed for GeoODK in Excel. The conversion of paper to electronic forms was discussed and the forms were revised and improved to meet both MAFC’s mandate to monitor agriculture for food security assessments and to streamline data collection at the village and district level. The option to take and submit photographs of crops affected by disease was added to the forms. The form design was followed by hands-on exercises on completing and submitting them online. The GeoODK system significantly increases the efficiency of data collection and delivery by directly submitting the data from the tablet to the online database. The data are instantaneously accessible to any authorized entity within the government and can be used to integrate with other data sources and satellite remote sensing information. The participants welcomed the new technology with much enthusiasm and have been equipped with an Android tablet each to participate in the GeoODK pilot project with the aim to facilitate MAFC’s mandate.