Sustainable rice certification in Pakistan, India and Cambodia with Mars Food
The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is a multi-stakeholder platform established in 2011 to promote resource efficiency and sustainability in trade flows, production and consumption operations, and supply chains in the global rice sector. Mars Food is a member of the SRP and has committed to improving the sustainability of the world’s rice supply and working towards sustainably sourcing 100% of its rice by 2020. Together with Mars, Akvo created a system to simplify data collection and effectively monitor the adoption of the SRP standard, which ensures sustainable farming practices.
Above: Imran Shiek, an agronomist and Mars Food partner, interviews a rice farmer in Lahore, Pakistan, September 2016. Photo by Aulia Rahman.
The SRP has developed a certification standard for improving the sustainability of rice production among smallholders and suppliers. The immediate goal of the SRP is for one million smallholder rice farmers to adopt the standard to ensure sustainable best practices in rice production, boosting farm incomes and protecting the environment. However, collecting and verifying the required data for monitoring compliance of smallholders and suppliers is a slow and costly process.
Akvo and Mars Food have worked together in setting up the data collection system, Akvo Flow, and designing a visualisation dashboard in Akvo Lumen to make sense of the data. The data is then used to monitor the adoption of the SRP standard.
Alongside the SRP standard, quantitative performance indicators are monitored to measure the changes resulting from the adoption of the SRP standard and to further enhance the understanding of best practices. Akvo team members trained rice suppliers in India, Pakistan and Cambodia to use the Flow app and all of its functionalities to their full potential in order to ensure quality data collection.
Digitising data collection for rice farmers in Pakistan, India and Cambodia
To date, over 500 smallholder farmers have been interviewed in the rice fields of Pakistan, India and Cambodia in order to collect data and verify their level of compliance towards the SRP standard.
The data collection exercises are still going on, and are expected to end after the next harvest. The data collected has been visualised in an online dashboard to enable the rice suppliers and Mars Foods to quickly analyse online maps, graphs and other visualisations, rather than relying on excel files. Making sense of the farmer data that has been collected in the field goes far beyond verifying compliance toward the SRP standard. Continued monitoring of the data, including the performance of the farms, provides important feedback to ensure the relevance and robustness of the SRP standard, while creating a basis on which to communicate progress towards sustainable farming practices in future.