UNDP / Palestine - Provision of a Palestinian Agricultural Advisory System (PAAS) for farmers in Palestine.
To strengthen the resilience of the agricultural sector, promote opportunities through introducing technological innovations, and build a network of Palestinian farmers, the Palestinian Government through its Ministry of Agriculture, with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), sought to establish a Palestinian Agricultural Advisory System (PAAS).
Agronomists and big farm owners were constantly facing challenges with habitat and landscape management and conservation, soil and nutrient management, animal welfare, biodiversity, water pollution, and farm business efficiency. To provide sustainable support to these challenges, there was a need to gather accurate data for evidence-based development programs.
A successful pilot conducted in Jericho served as a precedent to build an agricultural advisory system for all Palestinian farms in the West Bank and Gaza. Collecting and analysing accurate data on agricultural businesses and farms inevitably resulted in a data-driven planning and policy department at the Ministry of Agriculture which put farmers first.
The design and development of the applications to support the Palestinian Agricultural Advisory System (PAAS) was contracted to Bewsys by the UNDP. In satisfying the requirements needed to create the PAAS system, the Bewsys consulting team assessed technologies and processes implemented at the farmer and Ministry level to identify the best system for the key stakeholders.
The team also conducted research to test the technical literacy and tech adoption of the farmers and sought to find the key priorities of the expected users (i.e. farmers, agronomists, NGOs, and policy-makers). Through this, the team was able to build a sustainable planning tool for the Ministry of Agriculture to access data on farmers’ holdings, field and vegetable crops, horticulture, and livestock. The PAAS system was built on the yield monitoring, field management, system administration, and report generation of the Bewsys A-MIS.
The PAAS was designed to feature a data entry function that could easily be navigated by extension workers, agronomists, and statisticians. To depict the location of agricultural holdings, the data entry function was designed to be linked to a mapping function. In the design process, a tablet/mobile application was considered to enable farmers to connect with other farmers and agronomists willing to share advice, solve problems, and share information for free. Also, the PAAS was designed to be a mobile application. In collaboration with Palestinian MOA, the PAAS system was piloted to ensure usability and feasibility before full scale-up and handover to the programmatic team.
The PAAS system has helped build networks among Palestinian farmers which has built comradery, solidarity, and resilience int he agricultural sector. Farmers have gained improved understanding about weather forecast data and requirements for water protection and efficient sustainable water use. Additionally, the support from agronomists, and NGOs in the sector has provided the farmers with help in areas related to risk management, appropriate preventive actions to address natural disasters, animal and plant diseases. Farmers can also now be compensated with damage protection services from the MoA.
With the introduction of the PAAS system in the Palestinian agricultural sector, the key stakeholders are benefiting from the government’s initiatives to promote climate action, decent work, preserve land, and encourage responsible consumption and production.