An organisation such as ours creates a lot of data. To cut paper waste, we aim to be completely paperless by 2022 in all field activities. In the past, a lot of paper was wasted. To remedy this, we upgraded to the latest technologies to improve all processes in our daily operations. Digitisation is not only better for the environment, it also enables us to receive data collected hundreds of kilometres away from the head office at the push of a button.
Our field staff were given tablets with an app that collects farmer data, inspection observations, purchase records, production challenges, registration requirements, household information, possible child labour practices, and land tenure information. In addition to this app, the CAA uses GPS devices to map member farms, which are uploaded to our own custom farmer database and to Arcview software, which contains the base map of Ghana.
We maintain a database to ensure that all basic details of our members are easily available. This database is also needed to operate the CAA. Organising activities that involve training, registering, or inspecting thousands of members requires a lot of planning, and to ensure proper data management, all payment transactions, cocoa purchases, farm mappings, and certification statuses will be updated. That way, we can guarantee the highest degree of transparency and accountability.
Surveying and mapping
To map our members’ farms, we use a mapping method based on GPS technology to obtain the coordinates. This is coupled with GIS, which provides a large amount of information that can be used to guarantee traceability. Surveyors have been at work since 2009 and have mapped over 21,000 farms so far. However, since we register new members every year, their work will never be done.
To expedite the mapping work, we use Arcview, a tool that uses information from the Ghana Surveying Department (GSD) to check whether farms conform with our conservation plan. The GSD provides us with base maps that indicate elevation, bodies of water, forest reserves, and transport routes. This allows us to check the steepness of farms and their buffer zones. Any farm expansion is measured, ensuring that they do not encroach on forests or protected areas.