Improving the Competitiveness of Cattle Farmers through ICT Technologies in Argentina (TRAZAR)
The TRAZAR project (from traceability in English) is a very successful example of the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in rural areas to increase the efficiency and potentialities of small- and medium-scale cattle farmers. This project was financed by the MIF and was implemented by the Cultural Association for Integral Development (ACDI) in Santa Fe province, Argentina, between 2004 and 2006. It consisted of implementing a technology based on radio frequency identification (RFID) that traces animals and manages information through the different stages of the product cycle. The project also promoted the creation of PROGAN, a cooperative of cattle farmers that begun exporting and commercializing jointly.
- Using a Difference-in-Difference estimator, the impact evaluation concluded that cattle farmers that participated in the project had a better business and commercial performance than a control group of farmers that did not participate.
- The group of 40 farmers participating in the project increased exports from almost nothing to more than 200,000kg in 2009, reaching a profitability premium of 20% (price of high-value markets compared to selling locally) and doubling annual revenues from $515,595 to more than $1.2mm.
- Participating farms also diversified into other segments of the value chain, moving to industrialization, distribution and commercialization, whereas the control group remained in lower value-added segments.
- Employment in participating farms increased 30% on average compared to no growth in the control group.
- Participating farms also proved to be more resilient during the economic crisis that affected the cattle industry in Argentina. As a result of negative weather conditions and government restrictions imposed on meat exports, production began declining at a rate of 15% in the control group compared to 9% in participating farms.
- The TRAZAR project had a demonstration effect on other farmers in nearby regions. The success experienced in the pilot program encouraged other farmers in the provinces of Entre Rios, Corrientes and Chaco to form similar groups of producers using traceability technologies. TRAZAR also served as a model for another project being funded by the MIF in Nicaragua and was the starting point of an IDB regional program aimed at establishing traceability standards in Central America.