ClimMob is a free software and online platform for the design and management of participatory seed testing projects. ClimMob relies on agricultural citizen science. Agricultural citizen science turns the research paradigm on its head: Instead of a few researchers carrying out complicated field trials, large numbers of farmers or gardeners carry out small, simple trials on their land. Taken together, the many small trials can offer valuable information about the local suitability of agricultural technologies.
ClimMob lets users join all the data and applies sophisticated statistical analytics at the touch of a button. Fast, participants and researchers immediately get the information back and can start to discuss the results.
Some of the advantages of the tool are that (1) it reduces costs and diffuse seeds widely while evaluating suitability; (2) it avoids “leadership effects” in choice data; and (3) it has sufficient statistical power to distinguish socio-economic and spatial effects on variety choice.
In what context is this tool useful?
ClimMob is useful where researchers (or others) want to conduct large participatory trials of seeds or other planting materials, taking into account the complexity of multiple growing sites and the characteristics of multiple growers. ClimMob absorbs the complexity, guiding users through project design and coordination of field agents and trial packages. Later, they can easily analyze the resulting data by interpreting an attractive, automatically generated report.
Testers (growers or others) too can benefit because they can get the result of the tests back soon after the data have been submitted. This allows them to learn about the results from other testers and to make an informed decision to adopt any of the seeds that were tested.
Field agents benefit from ClimMob because it makes registration of participating testers simple. Later, collecting field data from the testers is streamlined by using the ODK Collect smartphone app, feeding data back to ClimMob in a quick and fail-safe way.
ClimMob has been used in large participatory trials, reaching 50,000 plot seasons across Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe. More than 15,000 farmers have participated in trials.
In India, a detailed impact evaluation showed that varietal diversification led to higher yields and increased resilience of households. Also, participation in trials improved the social cohesion of communities. The trials provided useful information, confirming that varieties recommended on the basis of trial results outperformed existing varieties.
In Nicaragua, ClimMob researchers worked on bean variety selection with farmers. Even though this was a relative small trial, the results show that seasonal climate conditions influence variety choice. The results also allow us to recommend portfolios of two or more varieties that do well under different seasonal climate conditions, reducing production risk. Socioeconomic variables, including gender-related variables, did not show a strong influence on variety choice, showing these results are robust for different households.
Currently, researchers are building partnerships for scaling in Central America, East Africa and South Asia, through bilateral projects, working with a broad array of crops.
Check the video below to know more about how Climmob is helping farmers and gardeners become citizen scientists.
Variations on this method
The current version of ClimMob is version 3.