New ICT Solutions to Age-Old Problems: Case of the IGP India Project, SEEP and ACDI/VOCA, 2009

    In 2006, ACDI/VOCA received an Implementation Grant Proposal (IGP) award from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop ICT-enabled applications to improve the efficiency of private sector extension services and fresh produce supply chain management in India. The IGP India Program developed ICT-enabled wireless software applications that are accessible on handheld devices. The applications enable field extension agents to address information gaps that constrain fruit and vegetable farmers and allow other supply chain participants to monitor and control both back- and front-end supply chain functions.

    The system seeks to make it possible for a production sponsor (e.g. a fresh produce wholesaler, retailer, farmer organization, or other intermediary) to schedule farmer production in advance of planting, as well as all other steps needed to ensure on-time delivery. The goal of the application is to minimize inventory requirements and reduce produce wastage - adding value for both the production sponsor and the farmer.

    The project was designed and launched in six steps:

    1. Define the problem and propose a solution
    2. Choose an ICT platform
    3. Conduct research and begin product design
    4. Find a partner and develop the business model
    5. Develop and field test the product
    6. Implementation

    Summary of results
    The report documents the following lessons learned:

    1. Understand what ICT applications can and cannot "fix" in a value chain.
    2. ICT solutions are effective at facilitating information flows within a value chain.
    3. Importance of capacity building
    4. Be aware of the human aspects of ICT solutions
    5. Design ICT solutions that benefit all levels of the value chain
    6. Choose strong local development partners for long-term sustainability
    7. Address intellectual property rights issues relating to newly-developed software