Mobile data collection among producers and consumers of probiotic yoghurt

Child mortality from dehydration caused by diarrhea is a major problem in Africa. The Fermented Food for Life consortium has developed and applied a business model aimed at enabling access to locally produced probiotic yoghurt for one million people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. TTC Mobile is responsible for collecting data from the probiotic yoghurt producers to measure their productivity and business metrics, and to build a database of consumers to gain insights in the local demand.

About Fermented Food for Life
Using a grant from the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) the Fermented Food for Life consortium, consisting of UWO, JKUAT, Heifer International, TTC Mobile, No Money No Cry Films and Yoba for Life, is developing and applying a business model aimed at enabling locally produced probiotic yoghurt to reach consumers in Uganda. The probiotic yoghurt starter culture has been developed in such a way that it can reduce the duration and intensity of diarrhea, a major cause of child mortality in Africa.

The novel probiotic starter culture was developed in 2016  by Yoba for Life and others, and allows African farmers to propagate a probiotic strain in locally produced milk. The international consortium was then brought to life to create a system that improves each link in the chain from milk to yoghurt so that local production can be scaled up. The culture that is provided to the local producers is unique as it has a long shelf life, does not require refrigeration, and the packaging size is suitable for small-scale producers. Overall, the intention of the project is to improve food and nutrition security by increasing local production, distribution, and consumption of health-promoting probiotic fermented foods.

Collecting data to measure productivity and business metrics
TTC Mobile is providing the consortium with easy access to the producers and consumers, using our mobile services. First, SMS messages are used to collect data from the involved producers, to measure their productivity and business metrics in English, Luganda and Ruyankole. How many volumes of yoghurt are produced and sold? What producers are selling the yoghurt where? The results will allow the trainers in the project to take action and improve overall probiotic yoghurt production in the country.

Additionally, TTC Mobile is setting up a database of the consumers of probiotic yoghurt, using a shortcode that facilitates consumers’ registration on the platform. The database will help in undertaking future surveys on the registered consumers. The consortium is setting up many activities to make people aware of the benefits of probiotic yoghurt, for example roadshows and radio talk shows.

Mobile technology has great benefits when aiming to interact with producers and consumers. Data collected in the field via mobile devices allows for real-time access to data analysis and real-time decision making. The data is reliable, as data does not need to be entered into a database from paper. This reduces the risks of error. Above all, mobile phones provide the opportunity to interact with hard-to-reach target audiences in remote areas, for example in Uganda.

Photo: Yoba for Life, Uganda.
Banner photo: Heifer International, Tanzania.

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