BY DICKSON EFFAH, DON SHIN, MILENA CASABELLA, AND UYANGA (MELODY) TSOLMONKHUU
Dickson Effah, Don Shin, Milena Casabella, and Uyanga (Melody) Tsolmonkhuu are second-year International Development students who traveled to Bangalore, India, to research India’s food supply chain. The team is working with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Geneva-based nonprofit organization seeking to improve nutrition outcomes in developing countries.
The IDEV Practicum allows students to work directly with public, private and non-governmental organizations as a capstone to their graduate studies. The IDEV Practicum Blog is a six-part series that chronicles the travels of IDEV students who take on client projects over winter break.
Our IDEV Practicum team traveled to Bangalore, India, to conduct research on innovative technologies used to resolve pain points in the food supply chain for legumes and beans. India is GAIN’s main focus because its rapid technological development holds insights for programs that could be replicated in other developing countries. The goal of the practicum was to identify new scalable technological solutions among the many hardware and software interventions being used across the food supply chain in India’s vast agricultural sector.
As we landed in Bangalore, we were ready to take on a series of interviews for our research, as well as an infinite amount of dal and naan. We met with twenty-four impact investors, start-up incubators, several food processing companies, research institutions, government officials, and technology developers to help expand and develop our research. Our questionnaire was designed to ask companies for their thoughts on the food supply chain in India: the challenges facing agricultural tasks and operations, the competition in the agricultural and technology sector, the difficulties of scaling agricultural programs, and how GAIN could ultimately help. We were overwhelmed by the amount of trust and openness these companies had with us, as we jotted down every piece of information valuable to our research.
After every interview, when we would sit in the infamous Bangalore traffic on our way to another meeting or chicken tikka dinner, we would go over the recurring challenges that most companies faced. The lack of information of knowing how to scale and what tools to use that would help farmers produce more, and fragmentation in the food supply chain were their biggest concerns. We found many companies working on these issues through a combination of hardware and software solutions, with great potential for replication in similar international contexts.
At the end of our time there, we were sad to leave the exciting environment of Bangalore. As we packed our things to leave and had our last coconut, we were happy with the data acquired during our stay. We are excited to present our findings to GAIN, and hope that our research will make a difference across food supply chains in India and beyond.
To read about the work that other IDEV Practicum teams did this year, visit this page.
PHOTO CREDITS: Dickson Effah, Don Shin, Milena Casabella, and Uyanga (Melody) Tsolmonkhuu