Xcallibre developed a project and farm monitoring system for the Provincial Department of Agriculture: Western Cape using its proprietary digital pen technology combined with GPS & camera enabled mobile phones. This solution allows the department’s extension officers to register projects with GPS coordinates and photographs and then do real time monitoring and provide support at regular site visits, while also attaching GPS coordinates and photographs of these visits.
Farmer Support and Development Chief Director, Dudley Adolph, explained that their policy of helping farmers optimise their output was hampered by lost forms, delays in getting forms back to their offices, delays in forms processing and ultimately difficulties of assessing information due to poor systems.
“We consult with all farmers on their particular needs and establish with them a project to make their enterprises as productive as possible.
“Once the project is running, our staff make regular visits, to make sure that things are going to plan.”
He said that with the Smart Pen system, visit reports could be filed and submitted with location data and photographs in real time.
The Smart Pen solution uses a combination of a standardised report forms, digital pens and Bluetooth- GPS/Camera equipped mobile phones.
The Extension Officer reviews the situation at each farm, completes the form with the digital pen and then captures photographs and GPS coordinates with the phone. The pen downloads the handwritten information to the phone via blue tooth, which then transmits the package of information (form, photo & GPS) to head office for analysis and reporting within seconds.
The Smart Pen solution will enable extension officers to complete data forms while on a farm, with all information being sent directly to a central project administration system known as X-Station which is housed at the Departments provincial offices. X-station has also been developed and customized by Xcallibre. It will be used for auditing purposes, management and service delivery purposes and monitoring and evaluation purposes. It will remove the duplication of information collection and reduce the administration time of Extension Officers, allowing them to focus on more direct service delivery – assisting farmers to produce quality products.
Extension Officers will also be able to tap into the central system to access information on crops, blights and other problems, and how these should be managed. In addition, they will be able to take photos with their cell phones, which will be sent to researchers for their responses.
All these initiatives are aimed at providing farmers in the Western Cape with more sound and timely advice, to ensure that the resources that they invest and the natural resources that they draw on are used in the most effective manner. These initiatives provide a more thorough service while reducing the environmental impacts of travel.