Big data is giving rise to a new economy where the largest markets are no longer in producing goods but capturing and processing information. At GeoTraceability we work to put smallholder producers on the map and help organisations recognise them for the work they do in complex supply chains. So, I am interested in what role smallholder farmers play in these changing economies? Will we see them excluded, or is there an opportunity for them to be included in the benefits of this new market?  

We need to rethink the way we engage smallholders to avoid dysfunctional and non-sustainable ecosystems.  We definitively need to reimagine our strategies. So, I’ve asked myself how to include smallholder producers in this new booming economy and ensure they get a fare share?

Different motivations drive diverse stakeholders to participate in development projects; increasing export revenues; securing supplies, protecting brand reputation, providing new financial services to name a few. But all of these depend on anticipated changes at the small producer level; a change in management practices, an increase in quality or productivity, a more sustainable behavior, technology adoption…


Why then should the small producer not be a data producer and get paid for this?   Each could be a component of a next level M&E system and contribute to data analysis in real time.

At GeoT we help organisations collect data on smallholder farmers. We often get asked whether we own the data? The answer is no, smallholders own their own data.  With the use of a consent form, the individual consents to disclose personal information allowing GeoT to host it and make it available to our customer for a specific usage disclosed before the authorisation is given.  GeoT, our customer and any third-party accessing the data must comply with the provision of the consent form.

The current hype on blockchain is fueling this idea of making a fortune by grabbing data, processing it and selling it or the outcomes of an analysis.  Almost each week someone contacts me to propose a partnership and see if they could use the data we host on hundreds of thousands smallholder producers around the world.

GeoT sells a software services to trace the commodities and raw materials produce by smallholders.  But we also facilitate data collection on their socio-economic background, their practices, the characteristics of their exploitation, the support they receive and the transactions involving them.

All this information has a high commercial and sustainable value.  Our platform can easily manage the quantity of goods produce by each smallholder and can trigger different forms of payment based on this information.  The same way, we could trigger payment based on specific data requirements.

The challenge is not technological but in changing mindset and commercial strategy.

An individual smallholder could hardly expect to receive a premium for selling geo-traceable goods and disclosing data, but an organized group of individuals like a farmer organisation or a coop, could certainly do.

So, we have smallholder cocoa, coffee, palm oil, cotton, gold producers and many others, could we now envisage to have smallholder data producers?

The answer is obviously yes if we want a true inclusive economy in which growth and wealth benefit to all.

If this topic is of interest to you, I will be speaking at the Palladium Positive Impact Summit hosted in London in March 14-15.  The title of my session is ‘Performance and Impact Measurement: Using Metrics to Drive Good Governance’.  The main theme of the Summit is ‘Reimagine Strategy’.


OPTEL GROUP, a leading global provider of traceability systems for diverse industries ─ namely, pharmaceuticals and medical devices ─ is pleased to announce that it is expanding its traceability offering even further through the acquisition of GeoTraceability.
Consisting of two entities, one in Canada and the other in the United Kingdom, GeoTraceability develops advanced information systems combining traceability and geomatics technologies to support the inclusion of smallholder producers of commodities and raw materials into complex supply chains.

The acquisition of GeoTraceability enables OPTEL to close its end-to-end traceability loop, by completing its offer with the first link in the supply chain; i.e., raw materials and resource extraction. OPTEL’s current expertise already covers most other aspects of the supply chain, such as manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and waste tracking. The addition of GeoTraceability’s technologies to OPTEL’s portfolio makes the company truly unique, as it is the only one in the world enabling end-to-end traceability.

This new acquisition also facilitates OPTEL’s entry into several other markets such as the agri-food and natural resources industries. “Supported by increasing demand, geo-traceability for raw materials is now a well-known concept throughout the world,” says Mr. Pierre Courtemanche, President of GeoTraceability. “Our solutions are currently used in 17 countries, mainly for cocoa, coffee, fruit, nuts, vegetables, cotton, palm oil as well as minerals, and our database contains information on more than 250,000 small-scale producers in Asia, Africa and South America,” adds Mr. Courtemanche.  

By providing information on raw material producers at the start of complex supply chains,  investors, companies, and consumers can make more informed decisions regarding their investments, suppliers and product purchases. This new ability is directly related to OPTEL’s mission, as end-to-end traceability is the key to a sustainable economy.

Our plan consists in optimizing supply chains to increase performance. Our customers, initially manufacturers, will now be able to benefit from unprecedented visibility over the origin of the raw materials that they transform, “ states Louis Roy, President of OPTEL GROUP.  “In addition to increasing their operational efficiency and quality control, end-to-end traceability helps create a sustainable economy in the long term; this means respecting the environment as well as the availability of natural resources,“ concludes Mr. Roy.

Thanks to technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain in particular, which ensures the security of the tracking process, OPTEL’s solutions will allow customers to increase productivity, reduce waste, cut distribution costs, control carbon emissions and even increase brand equity.



Now a Certified B Corporation, OPTEL is a leading multinational provider of traceability systems, and its mission is to use its innovative technologies to create a better world. The company’s renowned solutions ensure the quality of consumer health products and help stop counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and medical devices throughout the world. OPTEL is also adapting its technologies to create efficiencies in various other sectors from health-related industries to smart manufacturing and more, all can benefit from global traceability. OPTEL’s expertise will allow diverse industries to measure, inspect, control and track a variety of elements to improve quality and make better use of resources. For more information, visit

About GeoTraceability

GeoTraceability is a market innovator providing technical solutions that increase the visibility of suppliers and products in complex supply chains. We design and implement software to engage with, and support, the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and small-scale producers all over the world.  Our digitized solutions include data collection tools, traceability systems and online data hosting services. Our software packages are designed to allow organizations to collect, process, visualize and analyze data in a cost-effective way, at scale. GeoTraceability’s solutions are used by public, private and non-governmental organisations in a wide variety of sectors including agriculture, livestock, fishing, forestry and mining. For more information, visit





5 key things to consider when purchasing a technology system

There are many brilliant apps and digital gismos out there that offer all kinds of features and possibilities. This can make it a bit overwhelming for customers looking to purchase something to help them with their operations. So, we’ve put together 5 key things to consider when purchasing a technology system.

  1. Know what you need: This is true for any shopping. If you go to buy groceries without a list, you can easily come back with some things you don’t need and have forgotten to buy other things you do need. This is the same with purchasing a technology system. There are so many cool gadgets and ideas out there. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can easily get drawn down a rabbit hole and end up with a system that doesn’t meet your requirements. So, make a list of what you want to be able to do once the system is in place (this can be functional requirements such as ‘I want all my data in the same format’) and during the buying process, keep referring to this list. Carrying out a pilot is also a useful way of ensuring a system really does meet your requirements.


  2. Interoperability: Interoperability is a term used for when technology platforms can ‘speak’ to one-another and automatically exchange information. For example, social media management tools, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, interoperate with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to publish pre-written posts. In the case of smallholder farmers, the GeoT system can interoperate with others, allowing data captured using our system to be used by another. An example of this is our mining projects with the Better Sourcing Program (BSP). BSP use our systems to trace the movement of minerals and this data then feeds into a broader data set collected by BSP, which clients access using BSPs dashboard. Technology is evolving so rapidly that interoperability is key when purchasing a system so that you can bolt on future applications as required. It can also be hard to find one provider who meets all your requirements, and so interoperability allows you to piece together the system you need.


  3. Use-ability: This applies to the system and its output. When purchasing an IT system that will be used in the field, you need to think about how the user will be handling it, what the impact of the physical environment (such as glaring sunlight) will be, how easy it is for a technology novice, and what the risks are for data corruption and loss. But it is not only the use-ability of the tools to collect the data that must be considered. A key, and often forgotten aspect, is the use-ability of the output – the data. Being able to digitally see encroachment into forested land over maps, or the PH level of soil at different depths can be extremely useful for some projects – but is it useful in your case? With every data point collected, the question of how it will be used must be asked. Sometimes we see time and money spent on collecting data because the idea of having it sounds good, but there is no business need for the data, so it sits there unused. Working with organisations who have experience of helping clients decide their data-set, such as GeoT, can be useful as a sounding board and to give advice based on lessons learnt from other projects.


  4. The “How would I feel?” test: Imagine that you turn up to work and your boss announces a change to the way you are paid. Instead of a monthly automatic payment being made into your bank account, you will now receive money to your phone. In addition, the company will take scans of your iris’ and fingers to validate that work you submit is definitely from you before you enter the building. Oh, and that data is going to be held by a company the other side of the world. How would you feel? Technology has the power to do amazing things, but it can also be scary and daunting. When thinking about a system and what features to implement, it is always worth considering the people who will suddenly have the system imposed on them and whether you would feel comfortable if the system was being implemented on you.


  5. Affordability: Companies set their fees in many ways for technology systems. Often the pricing approach is influenced by whether the system is an ‘off-the-shelf’ model or a ‘software as a service’. It is important to be clear on how the pricing for the system works and that there are no hidden costs. In our case, we charge a one-off set-up fee and then an annual fee. This is because we offer a software service, rather than an off the shelf package. In our case, we do not charge based on the number of users, but other companies do. Sometimes implementing a new system can be a significant expense, so it is also good to be aware of all the different funding sources that might be available to you. These range from donor organisations, through to universities. At GeoT, we help clients to consider different funding opportunities and work with them to make sure the system is affordable and workable for their needs.

Data collection.png

Meet our new country representative for Indonesia - Tri Padukan Purba or Dukan


I’m delighted to introduce Tri Padukan Purba or Dukan, the latest member of the GeoTraceability Team.  Dukan is based in Jakarta, Indonesia and will be working mainly on Palm Oil Projects.  His particular areas of specialism are Sustainable Palm Oil Production, Best Management Practices and Smallholder Engagement.

Before working at GeoT, Dukan worked for a large oil palm company as Oil Palm Agronomist.  He also has experience working for an international NGO in Indonesia as a Program Coordinator for Better Management Practices for Oil Palm.  Dukan holds a bachelor degree in Forestry from Bogor Agricultural University and a master degree in Wood Science & Technology from University Putra Malaysia.

The number of our customers is increasing rapidly in Indonesia mainly in the palm oil sector.  To provide fast and quality services to our customers, Dukan's primary responsibility is to build a local technical support team.

If you are interested in how Dukan, or any of the GeoT team, could support your work, drop us an email at

A Certification Management System for Cocoa Cooperatives

We are currently partnering with Root Capital to provide cocoa cooperatives and farmer organisations in Cote d’Ivoire access to a digital data collection tool (the Certification Management System).  This allows them to collect data on their farmers and manage the data requirements for certification labels.  This is a new development, and one we think will have a significant impact on the cooperatives and their members.  We hope to see similar systems rolled out in other countries and commodities.  In this interview Hannah asks Mian (GeoT’s country leader in Cote d’Ivoire) about the project and why he thinks it will support cooperatives and farmers.

Hannah: Before discussing the project, can you tell us a bit about yourself and the work you have done in cocoa?

Mian: I am Mian AMOAKON. I am specialist in agricultural value chain crosscutting issues with particular focus on Farmer Organizations strengthening activities to make them more professional and sustainable.  I have over 15 years’ experience in program management mainly in cocoa sector.  I have been GeoTraceability’s Country Manager in Cote d’Ivoire since 2014 and I’m based in Abidjan.

Hannah: What does the Certification Management System let cooperatives do?

Mian: the Certification Management System lets cooperatives:

  • Collect data using a mobile app
  • Meet various certification schemes requirements simultaneously without complications
  • Have digitized data on their members that is accurate, reliable and updated
  • Know key aspects of their producers’ farms, including the area, farm characteristics, farming practices, and the history of production and deliveries

Hannah: Why is this important?

Mian: this is important because it facilitates cooperatives’ work and allow them to:

  • Better track their members, for example assess loyalty level of members by identifying farmers underselling or overselling
  • Better design member support programs
  • Save time and reduce data collection costs
  • Monitor loans and cash advances made to members against deliveries
  • Better data archiving and real-time monitoring
  • Increase their credibility towards their commercial and financial partners

Hannah: How much does it cost cooperatives?

Mian: it cost 12,000$ for the setup fees (upfront charge on Services Agreement signature) and 4,000$ for the ongoing fees (annual charge on the anniversary date of the Services Agreement).  For this project, Root Capital is funding the set-up fee and the cooperatives pay the ongoing fees.  In return, cooperatives give access aggregated farmers data to Root Capital.

Hannah: What is the best thing about the System in terms of how it can help cooperatives and farmers?

Mian: cooperatives spend too much time, energy and money on the data collection process with many risk (for instance loosing filled out paper forms or gathering unreliable data) and most certification agencies are pushing them to adopt digital data collection tools without giving them any support.  One cooperative said that they invest up to 5 million CFA (about 9,000$) a year for data collection.  GeoT’s System gives more credibility and efficiency at the lowest cost to cooperatives.

Hannah: How the Certification Management System helps cooperatives and farmers to access better markets?

Mian: In many instances, farmers and their organisations are not the certificate holders which means that they have to sell their cocoa to international traders and local buyers who hold the certificate and sell certified beans to off takers.  Cooperatives are dependant on aggregators to access certified markets and the premiums paid.

The GeoT Certification Management System allows the cooperatives to access certified markets directly and negotiate their own business terms with off takers.  It is a great way to empower them.