Akilimo Dashboard: ACAI develops a data management system for field activities and validation of agronomy advice tools

Akilimo Dashboard: ACAI develops a data management system for field activities and validation of agronomy advice tools

ACAI has developed a dashboard that will be used to curate project activity data and provide a real-time summary of results from field activities as entered by extension agents. The Akilimo Dashboard is a suite of code in R language combined with the Open Data Kit (ODK) data collection tools to form a data processing engine that delivers reports in easy-to-read pdf format, CSV files, and an interactive web interface.

Akilimo Dashboard output plots showing an Extension Agent’s status of events and calendar of activities

Extension agents (EAs) and national research system agronomists provide agronomy advice to cassava growers, monitor validation activities and provide data via mobile phones or tablets using the ODK collect app. Data entered by the EAs are processed daily through the R script and organized as output for interpretation customized to the user’s needs.

The dashboard will help ACAI management in monitoring the activities around the validation of the ACAI decision support tools (DSTs). Coordinators of the activities will be able to check the status and get real-time information on planned and ongoing activities in their respective regions at the click of a button. From this information, the project team and interested parties can view the number and details of the households who have received ACAI recommendation for follow-up and further observations.

EAs working with ACAI on validation activities are compensated through a reward system, based on the amount of work done and data delivered. The EA earns points against which the remuneration is made on a monthly basis. The dashboard will provide a summary of all activities to facilitate payment for the EAs.

Turry Ouman (left) and Meklit Chernet (right) developed the AKILIMO EA dashboard to for efficient data collection and reporting by extension agents in the field.

The EA dashboard is presented on the desktop using the R shiny app as the tool’s front end. The dashboard’s outputs include households’ registration details, field events, EA points, recommendations given to farmers and the aggregated data. Further plans include summaries of the DST and trial performance to allow individual feedback to households and EAs participating in the exercises.

The Dashboard is a result of intensive 5-month programming by ACAI’s data scientist Meklit Chernet and data analyst Turry Ouma.  According to Turry, the Akilimo dashboard provides on-demand access to all-important metrics for a coordinator to manage EAs and households under his supervision. The dashboard will highly increase the efficiency of accessing and referencing information about the ACAI field activities. It provides an unbiased view of EAs performance and offers the coordinators a platform for further dialogue and great decision-making. The tool also offers a platform for accountability which increases the performance of the EAs.

“We have aggregated EA data into a single interface thereby increasing efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and speed of generating research data,” says Turry.

The tool is interactive and versatile, it offers the user a dynamic experience through filtering data, interacting with plots to see changes over time. The tool is versatile to be customized to the use of other projects by changing the variables of the significant entries that have an impact on the indicators of the project progress and regular activities in general. ACAI will further develop the dashboard as a standalone application and complemented by a training module to allow new partners to test the ACAI DSTs. Through this process, new valuable data is delivered to further improve the DSTs.