Do MAD researchers add value for smallholders?

This presentation explores the deployment of mobile acquired data (MAD) via tablet-based apps in research for development initiatives. It assesses pros, cons and unexpected consequences in the field, for both researchers and smallholder farmers, using the ACIARfunded, University of Queensland Vanuatu Beef Project as a case study. In 2015, ACIAR sought to understand the potential benefits – intended and unintended – that mobile acquired data (apps on tablets) might deliver to its funded projects. In pursuit of this, AgImpact (an R4D company) was commissioned to design and manage a small research activity which reviewed nearly 20 ‘off the shelf’ apps, then conducted three weeks of field testing in Indonesia surveying beef producers, in partnership with the University of Udayana. The researchers concluded that the use of apps for in-field research has significant potential to improve relationships between researchers and smallholder farmers by improving two-way information exchange in near real time. Some of the key findings were: (i) survey times were reduced by approximately 53%; (ii) 93% of farmers found the use of apps informative when research results were provided to them in near real time; (iii) 73% of farmers found the overall survey experience using apps to be positive. By mid-2016, the research activity had gained momentum and evolved into the ACIAR Mobile Acquired Data (MAD) research series, now involving nine ACIAR projects adopting apps in research for the first time. An exemplar project led by the University of Queensland, ‘Increasing the productivity and market options of smallholder beef cattle farmers in Vanuatu’, designed and built apps featuring auto-calculation functions, look-up tables and case histories, to track changes in cattle production performance and cattle prices for individual animals in real time.

Issue Date:
Aug 08 2017
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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 Record created 2018-01-17, last modified 2018-01-22

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