Agriculture is a vital part of Ghana’s economic ecosystem. The country is known for producing staple food crops, such as maize, yams, and cassava; cocoa is the main cash crop. More than half of the Ghanaian labor force and one-quarter of the country’s entire GDP depends on agriculture. Given the sector’s central role, it is important that data coming from the field is relevant and reliable for policymaking.
Having accurate data means that the Ghanaian government can identify, develop, and implement policies that benefit the country and its agricultural workers. Unfortunately, the data collection system that the Ghanaian government has historically used is not reliable enough — a problem that can negatively affect the entire economy.
“The growth of the agricultural sector is dependent on the formulation of policies,” explained James Ayittey, deputy director of information and communications technology at Ghana’s Statistics Research Information Directorate (SRID). “Key policies must be based on reliable and credible data, as they will be used in addressing challenges in the sector.”
To address this problem, the Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project, a USAID initiative, began working with SRID, which is part of the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture, to develop a Computer-Assisted Personal Information System (CAPI). SRID seeks to provide relevant, accurate, and timely agricultural statistics and information for agricultural policy formulation, planning, project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation for efficient communication within the ministry and with the public. This digital system would support the established Ghana Agriculture Production and Market Price surveys, which collect annual crop, livestock, and market data that in turn feed into food security reports for the country.
Providing this support is part of the project’s larger goal to improve the food security environment for private sector investment in Ghana, primarily by improving how public and private stakeholders work together to implement evidence-based agriculture policies.
The digital CAPI system includes a web-based headquarters system as well as an Android-based mobile system. This dual-platform application system enables ministry staff to relay relevant information from the field back to the SRID headquarters using Mobile Tough Terrain 3G tablets provided by USAID. These Android tablets are GPS-enabled and provide field workers with the ability to accurately identify the location of each survey response. In this way, the ministry is establishing a safe, accountable, and efficient channel to collect and analyze data.