Inspire Challenge 2017 Proposal

Local Market Enhancement Tool

Plenty of farmers share a simple difficulty; they regionally seed and harvest certain agricultural products at nearly the same time.

This leads to a peak of the same agricultural products in the local markets with the effect of prices dropping and a lot of food waste for products with short lifecycle or limited storage capabilities; a lose-lose situation for everyone.

These “peak” harvests might be due to traditional, climatic and seasonal reasons, but also simply due to a lack of information and communication between the farmers.

So far, agriculture data was mostly provided in a centralized way, very often from a top-down viewpoint. Currently, finding information about seeding and harvesting timeframes of other farmers is extremely cumbersome and time-consuming with very moderate outcomes.


An idea to solve this

We propose a platform with location-based information on when and where which products are sown and harvested by local farmers.

Imagine a tomato farmer, receiving an individual doodle-like calendar with notifications on how many farmers in your region plan to harvest tomatoes in week X and what amounts are to be expected.

In case of an expected overflooding of the market, a farmer might want to postpone seeding or harvesting his tomatoes, resulting in a better overall planning for all participants.

The goal is to avoid temporal overflows of local markets with certain goods and ensure a more continuous and balanced flow of seeding and harvesting throughout the year.

We favor a crowdsourcing approach, combining state of the art technology and volunteered geographic information (VGI) on a global scale. We propose to drive forward self-organization, not hierarchical structures and dependencies, allowing also small farmers to interact and compete as a collective with the big players.

The data collected is immediately put into use in our platform but also allows for plenty of future agricultural or structural analysis.

As the data is open source, an interface for external commercial applications may additionally be implemented for connecting farmers with traders and markets. As it is in the farmers very own interest to participate with a clear view on the advantages, we expect a high participation provided proper publicity.

Regarding the implementation, simple is best – Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are trending in the recent years. They allow creating a single code base for a responsive web page as for multiplatform mobile apps, resulting in low developing and maintenance costs.

Our main focus would be to establish an interface for the farmers on both, web and mobile, collecting and pushing near real-time information. The server architecture is very straightforward, consisting mainly of a basic user management and an efficient database system.

This could be achieved by a backend-as-a-service platform, reducing developing times and maintenance costs while ensuring security, flexibility and providing a standardized API for all kind of platforms.


The predicted impact

Using the already existing communication ways between our partners like CIAT, Agronet and the farmers, also some initial starting regions with high participation can be achieved before testing on a global scale.

After the pilot period, the developed open-source platform and provided open-data-standards can be used by Agronet and any other farmers advisory service, but also for ICT startups working in agriculture and other geographical regions.

After some first (regional) pilots, there are many ways for growth, both in quantity and quality.

An important step is to get the platform on a (financially) sustainable level. The idea is to allow third parties to access the data with their custom applications through a standardized interface.

If they, as commercial traders, for example, are interested in doing business with the farmers directly, we could ask for a small percentage of the share to maintain the upkeep costs.

Support this Proposal

The Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is all about the creating connections to build the capacity’s need to inspire real change in the agriculture sector.

The aim of the Inspire Challenge is to generate innovative ideas that will revolutionize the future of agriculture using big data tools. You can be a part of the revolution by supporting these initiatives and help secure food for the future.

Contact one of the team members below to ask how you can help realize this idea.


Anton Eitzinger | Email

Mona Bartling | Email
(University of Salzburg)