MIT- CITE Team Engages Makerere University -COBAMS Students through RAN in Evaluating Post-harvest Storage Technologies in a Supply chain contract elicitation Exercise
This summer of 2015, The Comprehensive Initiative for Technology Evaluation (CITE) at MIT, a USAID supported initiative, engaged 40 students from Makerere University College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMs) to run a one-day seminar and exercise. Students from this college were selected because of their coursework and background experience in Business and Entrepreneurship. The goal was to explore the last-mile and artisanal Ugandan crop storage sector with the students. CITE conveyed learnings about risk sharing in supply chains, manufacturing before receiving orders, and having excess inventory after a sales period. The exercises attempted to have Makerere students reflect on these learnings in the context of last-mile and artisanal firms, and convey their own individual approaches to risk sharing agreements in supply chains, as noted by Mark Brennan on the Research Team from MIT- CITE
Through the summer they will process the data from the exercise, and use the results to help inform change in the private post-harvest storage sector.
This spans from an engagement that started last year during TechCon 2014 in California with Prof Jarrod Goentzel and Emily Gooding from MIT and later a Research Team that came to Uganda in January 2015. MIT – CITE Research team in Uganda has been studying the supply and demand of hermetic crop storage technologies. The evaluation is examining bags, plastic silos, and metal silos used in storage. The study is focused on evaluating a UN World Food Programme (WFP) Special Operation introducing hermetic technologies to farmers throughout the country and scoping out the already existing, though nascent, hermetic storage sector in Uganda. A key aspect of the supply of crop storage is the willingness of smaller actors to participate in the sector. Artisans and large firms must produce, last-mile distributors must transport, and retailers must stock the technologies. The physical size and monetary value of storage silos force smaller actors participating in the sector take on significant financial risks. Another key aspect of the supply of crop storage is the willingness of farmers to adopt the technologies. This willingness is a function of the perceived and actual value that a storage technology brings to a farmer. The study is exploring both aspects.
During January and summer 2015 field visits, CITE worked with Makerere University students from College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and alumni through fieldwork and classroom exercises.
In January 2015, Makerere students conducted pilot field interviews of farmers alongside the CITE team. These were held in the regions of Jinja and Gulu. Makerere University students helped CITE refine the survey both in person and through continued conversations via Skype. The survey was then used by the WFP Special Operation in an M&E effort that reached over 1,000 farmers. Then, throughout the spring of 2015, the Makerere students went out twice each with WFP teams administering the survey. Throughout the survey process, the students Skyped, once after each field visit, with CITE to describe the experience, the successes, and the challenges.
In the summer of 2015, the same Makerere students – now Makerere alumni – worked with a different group of CITE researchers conducting a more in-depth survey in similar districts. This group of CITE researchers worked very closely with the Makerere alumni, all of whom had built strong relationships with WFP Project Partners, had good understandings of the geography and languages in the relevant districts, and, by June, had a keen sense for shaping survey questions around post-harvest loss.
RAN and MIT- CITE are part of the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) under the US Global Development Lab. This collaboration is one of the many ways in which Makerere University – RAN and MIT-CITE are tapping into the potential of a big University Network while engaging multi-disciplinary teams to solve development challenges. The HESN continues to create a vibrant framework of cooperation between development professionals and academia by harnessing the ingenuity and passion of scientists, students, faculty, and entrepreneurs to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. This collaboration will help to create a community of Researchers and Innovators, we are optimistic we shall have future research and Innovation activities implemented between the two HESN Labs in the near future.
Compiled by Mark Emmanuel Brennan from MIT – CITE