Pakistan Project springs into action on water sensors

15th September 2021

SAI Platform’s Pakistan Project recently held a kick-off workshop bringing together 12 companies including members Ingredion, Nestlé and PepsiCo to focus on farm mechanisation in the region.

The workshop took a pragmatic approach to kick-off collaboration at a local level by focusing on the needs and experiences of teams working directly with farmers in the companies’ supply chains. A range of stakeholders representing potato, maize and rice supply chains shared their knowledge of sustainable on-farm practices as well as experience overcoming key barriers such as financial access and limited farmer capacity.

Conducted by Resonance Global, experts in managing pre-competitive partnerships in emerging markets, the agenda raised the challenge of mechanisation as an ongoing commonality among varying commodity supply chains. Key issues included transporting machinery between farms, outdated machinery from available local providers, and farmers resistance to paying up front costs before seeing results.

Discussions also addressed individual company programmes, and particularly the topic of water conservation and the use of water efficiency technology. It was here that the recognition of soil moisture sensors caught the full attention and imagination of core SAI Platform Pakistan stakeholders. 

As Ali Sohail, Lead Local Consultant explained: “The soil moisture sensor technology is not new, the game changer is the effective localisation of the technology, making it cost effective yet ensuring it meets the high output standards. We hope this will increase use of the technology by farmers, thereby reduce their operational cost, increase yields and conserve the scarce water resource.’’

In terms of tackling water use efficiency across a variety of crops, water sensors are a unique tool as they have the adaptability to fit into diverse supply chains such as potato, maize and rice and they can be used at scale.

Commenting on the importance of collaboration, Ceejay Girard, Resonance Global stated: “It’s encouraging to see companies coming together to find solutions for the whole farm’s sustainability rather than taking a single crop focus. This type of collaboration is the way forward for many systemic-level issues impacting production today.”

The workshop resulted in a strong indication of interest among some participants and led to a discussion of developing a new project focused on deploying cost effective soil moisture sensors on member farms. The technology developed and deployed by a local university has already shown some promising results, with significant opportunities in the potato and maize crop. Resonance Global will continue to further explore avenues for funding and to broaden the multi-stakeholder partnership. 

For further information on SAI Platform’s Pakistan Project and how to get involved or specific information on water sensor research or mechanised seedling, transplanting and harvesting in the Sindh and Punjab regions, please contact Ceejay Girard.