UNDP Cultiv@te Award Winner for Innovation in Sustainable Agriculture

18th May 2020

"How can the Republic of Uzbekistan ensure the fair and sustainable use of their pastures while protecting them from environmental degradation? What innovative platforms, tools, and experimental policy could be combined to preserve this critical natural resource without the need for hard police enforcement using park rangers?"

The United Nations Development Program's Global Innovation Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture looked at challenges like the above and others in partnership with the governments of twelve countries around the world to find innovative solutions to today's most pressing agri-tech challenges. Addressing this challenge, the Pastoral Developmental Innovation group within Glorious Labs; a hardware company with offices in London and Singapore, built a multidisciplinary team of designers, business developers, policy consultants, and developers to new approaches to soft enforcement of vital natural resources in Uzbekistan.

This experimental Developmental Innovation group specializes not only in physical and digital products but also in organizational design and Experimental Policy. After an initial research and consultation period with UNDP innovation specialists in Singapore, the Pastoral team is delighted to be selected by the UNDP as the Cultiv@te Agri-Tech finalist for the Republic of Uzbekistan. This award enables the Pastoral team to have an unprecedented level of access to the Ministry of Agriculture in the Republic of Uzbekistan, and in-country experience.

In the coming months, Pastoral will assemble a small team of consultants in Tashkent in order to embed themselves in the needs of the Uzbek smallholder farmers, initiating a phase of design learning consultation with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture. This novel approach to Developmental Innovation seeks to combine cycles of test & learn prototypes, coupled with Design Thinking, Agile software development, and open and empathetic observation of the end-user farmer before any final product is released.

What is Pastoral?

Pastoral will continue to develop as the team embeds themselves in-country. The current Pastoral V1 prototype is designed to assist with the sustainable development of Uzbekistan's pasture land through incentivizing sustainable grazing practices. This proposed solution is comprised of experimental agriculture and tax policy involving a carrot and stick initiative, as well as a software platform to confirm compliance of policy and to issue benefits to those adhering to the rules.

It aims to incentivize sustainable rotation of pasture land for cows and sheep and to cut down on the illegal use of public land. The solution will discourage unsustainable pasture use practices, including overgrazing, lack of monitoring, and harmful biodiversity conservation measures.

Pastoral offers smallholder farmers consistent and secure access to pasture land assigned by government rotation at a national level. Through a secure dashboard, the ministry of agriculture can denote specific regions open to grazing, and those that are closed. The platform then informs the smallholder farmers which areas are open or closed to grazing through the low-connectivity mobile application.

Enforcement of this land use is through a series of 'carrot and stick' financial incentives and liabilities. The initial proposal of Pastoral will include a sector-wide tax liability specifically related to livestock herding across the country. This tax liability is introduced simultaneously with a tax exemption issued in the form of a unique blockchain digital ID or 'stamp.' The stamp would be released in exchange for the farmer's use of the digital platform application and in agreement for its use to track the farmer's herd location. This solution has the added benefit of offering a low-cost system for the Uzbek government to monitor national herd locations without the use of satellites, as well as two-way communication between the ministry of agriculture and the smallholder farmers.

Pastoral plans to increase Uzbekistan's national pasture quality and improve livestock productivity. The digital platform and experimental policy aim to limit further pasture degradation to below 1% per year by 2024, and help begin the restoration of Uzbekistan's grazing lands by 2030.

Why Now?

The Pastoral Team is excited to introduce our Developmental Innovation practices both in Uzbekistan and globally, helping to solve some of the world's toughest problems through experimental prototypes and Agile product development methods. This new method of developmental consultancy allows us to measure and test a population's response to early iterations before asking for the large-scale grants required by traditional consultancies.

Even in a world dominated by COVID-19, the Pastoral team believes that opportunities to maintain environmental initiatives are paramount. Innovation is more critical today than ever, with opportunities to build new norms, as older obsolete systems are discarded. We develop solutions to tomorrow's environmental crisis even during today's health crisis.