Overview of Olam Cocoa business, illustrating the idea of Olam Direct using the initial prototype. (Video by Olam Cocoa)
To on-board farmers into a digital medium that is new to them and keep them engaged as well as help them learn, the interface is kept simple and easy to understand. Most of the interactions are single-task oriented, along with big and bold action buttons to guide them throughout their journey.
Simple use of language and explicit visual cues to address low mobile maturity of farmers
Design for low mobile maturity
Real time prices available for farmers to check during every transaction ensuring true value of goods sold.
Real time prices calculations specific to each farmer’s need and context.
Critical information is prioritised for farmers at each and every stage to ensure efficiency and avoid confusion.
Price calculations made simple
Farmer Lead App
Having primary tasks of managing, collecting and maintaining daily transactions, design was focused on predictability and reliability (in Bahasa).
First working prototype
We built a quick 3 week prototype based on the research insights and tested it with group of farmers and farmer leads. Our first usability testing provided us with a lot of feedback and new insights. We set out to translate the everyday business of selling beans, getting advise and money management into a series of simple tasks for the farmers. It was paramount that the character of the interface and its interactions with the user offer a sense of friendliness, ease and efficiency while increasing confidence, trust and control.
Design to gauge farmers’ response on certain aspects of security, predictability, social proof and sense of completion.
To meet our primary objective, which was to enable farmers directly sell their cocoa beans to Olam, doing away with the fashionable smartphone-based app solution was clearly not an option. With major challenge of tech-illiteracy in the region, but at the same time growing adoption of handheld devices for various other daily activities, the mobile app solution was a fair start for us.
Key research insights
We carried out our research by interviewing and observing the farmers by different methods like role playing, questionnaires and validated the observations with Olam trainers. We understood a lot about farmers, culturally as well as socially, their cocoa buying process, their perspective and behaviour towards digital technology, among many such insights that would eventually feed into our thinking and hypothesis. We also learned about limitations like internet connectivity, poorly educated farmers, and challenging climates.
We got a good opportunity to meet and spend time with the farmers directly in their homes. Along with the help of Olam employees we identified various groups and farmer profiles as well as extension officers (farmer leads) who took care of a group of farmers dedicated for a defined region.
We wanted to empathise with the farmers’ world to know about their mental models, aspirations, challenges and motivations in order to create a meaningful solution.
Understanding life of a Cocoa Farmer
Among a wide range of agricultural products, Cocoa was proposed as the commodity to test the hypothesis with. And Indonesia being the 3rd largest producer of cocoa after Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, was the chosen region. We started our research and ethnography in Lampung, a rural farming town in the southern part of Indonesia's Sumatra Island, where cocoa is the main source of income for over 1 million smallholder farmers and their families.
This area had been affected by crop diseases, poor soil nutrition, and aging trees, leading to a decline in local cocoa production over the past decade and diminishing farmers’ income and quality of life. The objective was to help boost farmers’ livelihoods by securing a regular source of income through cocoa farming.
Making our rounds to Cocoa Farms — Understanding the business, gathering information from the business stakeholders and getting a load of Cocoa Pods and Beans in Lampung, Indonesia.
Olam’s unique and fully integrated Cocoa business
Olam wanted to gauge the acceptance and possibility of adoption initially through a working prototype and then expand their initiative by developing a full-fledged application. Moonraft was roped in to understand the farmers from an ethnographic and digital-behaviour perspective, and design a digital ecosystem that improves reach and real-time connect with farmers.
Initiated with the aim to disintermediate the dependency of middlemen and digitally empower smallholder farmers to directly sell their produce to Olam and earn their livelihood without any dependency of physical presence.
As technology made deeper inroads into the way companies operated, Olam International, one of leading agri-business in the world, embarked on a hypothesis of building a stronger, direct and real-time connect with their farmers using a digital platform.
Singapore, Jakarta, Lampung, Bangalore
Direct Connect with Farmers —
Equipping farmers to secure their future