Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an integrated collection of computer software and data used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships and model spatial processes. GIS provides a framework for gathering and organizing spatial data and related information so that it can be displayed and analyzed.
In Ghana, Syecomp Business Services Ltd has been providing spatial decision support systems for smallholder farmers whose commodity focus is on high value export horticulture products: Pineapple, Mango, Papaya, Cashew, Vegetables and Banana and food crop farms as well: Citrus, Tomato, Onion, Maize.
Syecomp Business Services Ltd is an established market leader in the provision of agricultural technical support in Geographic Information Systems/ Global Positioning Systems (GIS/GPS) use training, survey and mapping for smallholder producer groups in Ghana. Support for smallholder producer groups to become organic and/or GlobalGAP certified as a means of enhancing their competitiveness on the local and international markets is essential. Certification however requires that farmers’ fields and orchards are clearly identifiable. In Africa this is usually done via GPS references.
Research conducted by the company indicates that there is gradual adoption of the technology usage by smallholder farmers. Over 140 smallholder pineapple farmers recently trained in the Volta and Eastern Region in the use of an advance farm mapping software, Trimble GNSS Receiver, successfully undertook the mapping of their respective farmlands and plots. After the farm data was processed by the GIS Experts at Syecomp Business Services Ltd, the following was generated for them:
Farm maps (with proximity to relevant features e,g rivers, markets, roads, communities, etc)
Exact plot sizes,
Farm features eg. Farm houses, tractors, storage sites, processing sites
Distance relative to other farmers
The utilization of GIS helps smallholder farmers address numerous constraints they face within specific phases across the agricultural value chain. The technology has helped them increase competitiveness and minimize poor production planning. It is also assisting in the establishment of the spatial locations and concentration of farms owned by smallholder farmers; determine supply base of producing firms and establish a system for traceability and precision production.
The farmers were equally excited about knowing the exact sizes of their farms; hitherto they were farming on crude knowledge in estimating their farm sizes which is mostly over-estimated and under-estimated most of the time. This thus helps them in their farm documentation activities.
The farmers expressed interest in gaining more of such skills.
Scaling our GIS/GPS Services
The company is scaling its services to reach lot more smallholder producer groups in the country. They have so far provided GIS services for well over 4000 smallholder farmers. In addition, the company will collaborate more with agricultural NGOs in the country and also continue providing consultancy services in GIS survey and mapping for local and international development projects in Ghana.
Syecomp Business Services Ltd wish to thank AFC Consultants International GmbH for the GIS survey and mapping services under the GIZ funded Market Oriented Agricultural Development Programme (MOAP). We also wish to acknowledge the Volta Value Chain Council (VVCC) for the excellent working relationship.
Solomon Elorm Allavi
GIS Mapping Specialist