The importance of data collection coordination

How data collection coordination can take Acorn to the next level

In February of 2024, we embarked on an exciting new journey as Data Collection Coordinators. As a recent addition to Acorn’s structure, this role brings together responsibilities and goals from different teams across the company, giving us a unique perspective on how we can achieve the best results for everyone.

Our New Role: Bridging the Gap

Our primary responsibilities revolve around two main areas: farmer onboarding and ground truth data collection. Each task is crucial to ensuring that Acorn's projects run smoothly and deliver accurate, impactful results.

Farmer Onboarding & Ongoing Support

Farmer onboarding is a critical step in our process. It involves engaging with local partners and farmers to introduce them to Acorn's programs, explain the benefits, and ensure they are fully informed about what joining entails. This includes a wide range of responsibilities: creating training packs for local partners to use when educating their data collectors, obtaining consent forms from farmers, and working with local partners on how to best collect essential farmer data. By coordinating these efforts, we hope to ensure that farmers are integrated into the Acorn system as smoothly as possible, setting the foundation for successful project outcomes.

Ground Truth Data Collection

Ground truth data collection is another vital component of our role. This involves working with local partners and external companies like AKVO to gather accurate data from the field. Our task is to coordinate these efforts, ensuring that the data collection aligns with our internal Remote Sensing group’s methodologies and timelines. This data is essential for remote sensing and other analytical processes that help measure and verify the impact of our projects. Whether it's mapping out farm plot polygons or counting trees, we aim to ensure that the data collected is reliable, useful, and collected on time.

Daniela and colleagues meeting with local partners in Ghana

Navigating Challenges and Embracing Opportunities

As with any new role, we've certainly encountered challenges. However, we view these as opportunities to improve Acorn's processes and make a significant contribution to the projects' overall impact.

One of the main challenges we face is dealing with events that can disrupt both our farmer onboarding and data collection plans. From unpredictable natural events, such as heatwaves and cyclones, to social factors like political elections and festivals, our ability to stick to our planned timelines can change rapidly and unexpectedly. Additionally, the differences in data collection methods across regions—such as using Acorn’s Data Collection Tool (DCT) in Africa and Asia versus bulk uploads in Latin America—can sometimes lead to inconsistencies and synchronization issues.

We are also first in line to hear about the logistical and technical challenges faced by data collectors and local partners. We then coordinate the communications between the field teams and the data collection tool (DCT) support team to facilitate problem-solving that will hopefully reduce the impact on data collection as much as possible.

Another hurdle can be the difficulty in gathering complete farmer data. Many farmers may lack basic contact information or face communication barriers, making it harder to obtain the necessary details. These challenges require us to be flexible, adaptive, and proactive in finding solutions that work for each unique situation—which is what we’re here to help facilitate!

Daniela chatting with local partners in Ghana

Unlocking Potential

Despite these challenges, our role offers immense potential for Acorn and its mission. By serving as the central point of contact for all of the project stakeholders within Acorn and across our partners, we ensure everyone is aligned on how these processes can be optimized, bringing more consistency and efficiency to our projects. For instance, we are collaborating with the relevant teams to define and establish standardized responses to common issues, such as handling deforestation detections or changes in farm ownership. Standardizing these processes will ensure that we can address these situations more effectively and uniformly across all our partner regions. Moreover, our work in coordinating farmer onboarding and ground truth data collection helps Acorn achieve its targets for farmer numbers and project impact. By being part of the conversations that set these targets, we can bring the valuable insights that we’ve gained into these processes to help create goals that are as realistic and achievable as possible. This collaborative approach will not only improve our current projects but also pave the way for future initiatives.

Looking Ahead: A Bright Future

As we imagine the future of our role, we are excited about the possibilities offered by data collection coordination. Our main goals include bringing more structure to all projects, ensuring that each project starts with a well-defined plan, and standardizing these plans and processes as much as possible across teams. We also aim to be more involved in setting targets and forecasting potential challenges. By understanding the unique factors that affect each region, we can better anticipate and plan for obstacles, ensuring smoother operations and greater success. We both joined Acorn because we were passionate about its mission for both the planet and for local communities around the world. We hope that by working towards these goals with a collaborative spirit and a forward-thinking approach, we will be an essential part of helping Acorn achieve its ambitious goals to onboard as many projects as possible—and, ultimately, make a tangible difference in the communities we serve.

About Acorn

We help support smallholder farmers in developing countries transition to agroforestry. Together with local partners, we facilitate the funding and training needed by farmers to start their agroforestry transition. Transforming the sequestered CO2 through agroforestry into Carbon Removal Units (CRUs), we offer carbon credits to responsible corporates to help them reach their climate goals. The growth of the trees is measured with satellite imagery, AI and LiDAR, and certified by ICROA-accredited Plan Vivo.

With 80% of the sales revenue going directly to the farmers, it creates an additional income stream and helps them adopt a more climate-resilient way of farming that improves food security, biodiversity, and financial independence.

Get involved with Acorn

Meet Our People

Daniela SerpaData Collection Coordinator
Rosemarie DerksData Collection Coordinator
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