IMPACT STORY #3: USAID Oceans Taps Start-up Technology Company to Connect Small-Scale Seafood Traders and Communities in Indonesia
USAID and an Indonesian technology start-up demonstrate the value of developing business management and traceability solutions specifically for small scale fishers, fish traders and processors in Indonesia.
“With the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership mentorship, we have become aware of multiple needs from various parties in Indonesia’s fisheries, including non-profits, companies and other development projects. We saw the potential of not only tackling challenges in the fisheries sector but also addressing other important social and environment issues in coastal communities such as livelihood development, microfinance, women empowerment, and marine plastics, among others.” – Wong Dien, Founder and Director, PT. Altermyth
Since 2015, USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) partnered with a number of innovative local technology firms in Southeast Asia to advance the development and adoption of electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) solutions that capture and digitize information from small-scale fishers and buyers to better detect and combat illegal fishing and provide buyers increased transparency on the origin and sustainability of seafood products they purchase.
USAID Oceans identified and partnered with the Indonesian technology firm PT. Altermyth to develop a simple, effective open source electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) mobile application, Trafiz, that captures traceability data from fish buyers, who play an essential role in tuna supply chains connected to small-scale fishers in Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
The Challenge: Small-scale fishers and seafood buyers struggle to meet government and market requirements for traceability data to prove the origin and legality of their fish
Globally the growing concern over the depletion of fisheries resources has prompted a push for an increase in accountability and responsibility to protect and conserve those resources. In Southeast Asia, sustainable management of the sector is extremely important as almost 80% of the 40 million people engaged globally in capture fisheries are from the Asian region.
The lack of appropriate and cost-effective eCDT technology solutions that document and trace fish from the point of catch to consumers, often through complex supply chains, is a common problem especially for small scale fishers and seafood buyers who play an essential role in Southeast Asia fisheries.
At project inception, USAID Oceans conducted an assessment that indicated the majority of eCDT technologies available in the market were geared towards larger seafood processors, buyers and fishing vessels, leaving limited affordable, effective options for small-scale fishers and traders. Many of those technologies also did not have the functions that worked for small-scale fish traders.
As a result, the limited use of eCDT technology created a significant lack of data insights on small-scale fisheries supply chains. The Indonesian government and industry are concerned that its tuna sector, a key fishery and export for the country, is losing significant value in key markets from the lack of applicable eCDT systems for small-scale fishers and seafood buyers who make up a large part of the sector.
Solution: Develop an open source eCDT application with a local Indonesian technology firm with the business needs of small-scale fish buyers integrated
Through extensive research in Bitung, Indonesia and General Santos City, Philippines, USAID Oceans identified several significant challenges in capturing and recording traceability data on vessels at sea, including limited connectivity, cost of data submission and fishers’ limited experience in using the technology. So, given the barriers to data capture at sea, USAID Oceans focused on developing a tool to capture catch data at the point of landing, such as a beach or dock instead
In Indonesia, USAID Oceans identified a technology start-up company, Altermyth, with experience building mobile applications, to develop an eCDT mobile application tailored specifically to small-scale fish buyers, called Trafiz.
Altermyth designed Trafiz with the help of potential users who would pilot the system e.g., suppliers, middlemen, and the processing companies, in partnership with USAID Oceans, the Indonesia Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and other project partners.
The Trafiz application provides numerous features applicable to the small-scale fisheries supply chain. It is the first data entry point by the buyer, who purchases the fish directly from small-scale fishers at beaches and docks and then sells the fish to processors that export to the United States, Europe, and Japan.
Through Trafiz, fish buyers can record their daily transaction records such as when they buy fish from individual fishers and when they sell them to larger industry partners. The associated traceability data includes Key Data Elements (KDEs).
Because the fish is often sourced from remote areas of Indonesia, home to more than 17,000 islands, the application can be used both with and without cell service. Another key feature set, and the main reason buyers are adopting the solution, is it enables them to track their business operations, view custom reports on net profits, and view a loan-tracking function that helps them manage their business more efficiently.
After developing Trafiz, USAID Oceans partnered with Bitung-based PT. Nutrindo, a tuna fishing and processing company, to implement the Trafiz application so it can receive traceability data direct from its suppliers.
Impact: USAID Oceans expands traceability in Indonesia tuna supply chains
Altermyth and USAID Oceans demonstrated how incorporating specific business tools, such as loan and sales management tracking, into eCDT solutions benefits small-scale fishers, fish traders, and processors. By the close of 2018, USAID Oceans partner companies used Trafiz to record over 1,200 transactions amounting to over 170,000 lbs of tuna from more than 80 small-scale fishers.
With Trafiz, Nutrindo received traceability data direct from its suppliers, facilitating compliance with market traceability requirements and simultaneously reducing the burden of data-entry. From 2017 to 2018, the amount of tuna sourced from Nutrindo’s small-scale fisheries suppliers equipped with Trafiz increased by 20 percent over the volume of tuna sourced from its own vessels that were not equipped with Trafiz —a trend that Nutrindo expects to continue.
“USAID Oceans taught us the key bits and pieces [about the seafood industry], introduced us to key industry players and different stakeholders with technology and traceability needs, including seafood processors, associations, certifications, observers…identified their needs… problems to solve…. This is the most valuable output our engagement with USAID Oceans.” – Wong Dien, Founder and Director, PT. Altermyth
Wong Dien, Director of Altermyth (on the right) wins 1st prize at the USAID Oceans supported Bali Trackathon. (Photo credit: USAID Oceans/L. Bader)
The Trafiz application also captures more information on their supply chain than previously thought possible through manual entry, such as departure, catch and landing area, vessel name, total quantity of catch, and personal fisher data.
For Altermyth, USAID Oceans’ financial support and mentorship opened new markets and business opportunities in providing technology solutions in the fisheries sector and, more broadly, to coastal communities throughout Indonesia.
Altermyth continues to enhance the features of Trafiz to provide more value and income to users. Altermyth has also employed a sustainable business model for scaling the Trafiz application to more seafood supply chains in Indonesia.
Key results for the company based on its engagement with USAID Oceans:
- New contract with the USAID INVEST project to connect the Trafiz application to financial technology providers and add features for women traders.
- New partnership with the Indonesian Pole & Line and Handline Fisheries Association, the International Pole and Line Foundation and Marine Change to develop an online verification system that will allow Indonesian companies to report production volumes in compliance with the Marine Stewardship Council
- Explore new partnerships to provide supplemental incomes to fishers to collect marine debris and connect with emerging ocean plastics recycling initiatives.
- Working with the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME) to develop the interconnectivity between each companies mobile eCDT applications.
- Discussions with ThisFish to expand the use of Tally, a traceability app for seafood processors, which will help consumers make more informed choices about the authenticity, quality and sustainability of seafoods.