Last month we visited farmer co-ops in Burkina Faso with whom we are working as Secretariat of the Sustainable Nut Initiative and as FairMatch Support. We would like to share some observations and insights from these visits, because we saw some interesting transitions.

We observed that a huge transition is taking place; where co-op leaders used to be 45-50 plus with limited education. Nowadays we see young professionals of 25-35 years of age with a good education, full of ambition and eager to move. The dynamics are changing!

Multiple crops and data collection

The co-ops trade in various crops like shea, cashew, maize, bees products etc. Some of them are specialised in one crop, but more and more co-ops are trading various crops in order to cover their operational costs and spread their risk and have income whole year round.

All co-ops are already working with ‘traceability systems’ on the request of their (final) buyers. Some of them were using 4 (!) different apps for different crops for different clients. Each client wants to know the setting of the production; composition of the family, the farm, number of hectares number of trees etc. Some farmers had already 4 different ‘identities’ as all used different setup’s and codes which makes comparisons and analysis among crops virtually impossible. The collection of the data is a very time-consuming exercise. In none of the cases the farmers got a copy of the data or were involved in analysis of the collected data.

When data are not shared, the quality of data is at stake in no time as why should fill in the right data? The traceability systems become of relative importance by this.

Traceability has to start from the farmers end

The various leaders were clear on the next steps: “We need to take control of our data collection. We need a management information system ourselves as a co-op in which we collect our own data, analyse the data and use it for the improvement of the co-op. After that we can share aggregated data with our clients when they want them.”

We think this is an important message in a time where more and more (final) buyers are pushing for data and ‘traceability’ which might create a next burden for farmers instead of a tool for improvement and traceability!

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