SmartFarming BV Supports Integrated River Basin Management in Magdalena region, Colombia

In the Río Frío and Sevilla basins of Magdalena, Colombia, fresh and irrigation water is a vital resource for about 185,000 inhabitants in the surrounding municipalities. However, due to water shortages, inefficient irrigation practices and alternating water availability, there is unsustainable production of cash crops such as coffee, banana, and oil palm. To address this issue, SmartFarming BV, together with its partners, has developed a Decision Support System (DSS) tool to ensure effective governance and communication around water demand and supply in the basin.

The DSS tool was developed using irrigation water demand data collected from agricultural producers in the basins, water monitoring systems to measure the flow of water from the various river basins, and weather forecast data. This integrated tool provides insights about the weather conditions that can affect the flow of water in the basins and the demand of water by the crops in a particular period.

The project, called ‘The Integrated River Basin Management in the Magdalena region’, was funded by RVO and aims to promote sustainable agriculture practices while conserving natural resources. SmartFarming BV was commissioned by Resilience BV and Acacia Water to develop the DSS tool. It is important to note that the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) commissioned Resilience BV and Acacia Water for this assignment, and SmartFarming BV (part of the Resilience BV network) was subsequently commissioned by them. This collaboration demonstrates the importance of partnerships and collaboration in creating sustainable solutions for our future. We are proud to have been a part of this team effort in creating an innovative solution to promote sustainable agriculture practices in Colombia.

The producer data used to develop the tool was collected using the ODK collect app, stored, and managed in ODK Central Server. The questionnaire was developed in Microsoft Excel and uploaded in the ODK Central after consulting with users and other stakeholders to gather relevant information. A prototype questionnaire was piloted among selected producers, and feedback was used to improve the tool. A final version of the questionnaire was developed, and a user manual was shared with the users to guide them in navigating the ODK collect App when responding to the questions.

The water supply data was taken from the IDEAM website, and specific water stations in the Magdalena region were identified through research. Stakeholder engagement was done to determine the specific data to be included in the dashboard. The weather forecast data is an open weather information taken from the Visual crossing weather services website, after researching several open weather data sources on the type of weather information and accuracy of the data. Stakeholders were consulted on the type of weather data to be included in the dashboard.

The development of the DSS Tool involved research, stakeholder engagement, field testing, feedback, and evaluation by the tool development team. User requirements and functionality specifications of the tool were gathered, and a prototype dashboard of the various data sources was developed and presented to the project stakeholders for feedback. The tool was further developed to incorporate additional user requirements to improve user navigation and content. An administrator manual in the form of a presentation and video was developed on how to navigate and update the DSS Tool with current data from the various data sources integrated into the tool.

SmartFarming BV is committed to promoting sustainable agriculture practices and conserving natural resources. The development of the DSS tool for The Integrated River Basin Management project in the Magdalena region is a significant step in achieving this goal. SmartFarming BV aims to continue supporting water governance in the Magdalena region by updating and maintaining the DSS tool and upgrading the tool to incorporate new data sources and additional functionalities.

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