National Department of Agriculture


National Department of Agriculture


Helping farmers optimise their output was hampered by lost forms, delays in getting forms back to their offices, delays in forms processing and ultimately difficulties of assessing information due to poor systems..


Xcallibre developed a project and farm monitoring system for the Western Cape Agriculture Department using its proprietary digital pen technology combined with GPS & camera enabled mobile phones. This solution allowed the department’s extension officers to register projects with GPS coordinates and photographs and then do real time monitoring and provide support at regular site visits, while also attaching GPS coordinates and photographs of these visits.

The Xcallibre solution was such as success that it was reviewed by the National Department of Agriculture and after discussions with the 9 provincial teams, a joint decision was made to implement the solution as a support system for the extension recovery program countrywide. Xcallibre has therefore been busy with the rollout of the solution at all 9 provinces and has thus far deployed over 4000 of the estimated 6000 pens required.

Western Cape Agriculture, Farmer support and development chief director Dudley Adolph said that their policy of helping farmers optimise their output was hampered by lost forms, delays in getting forms back to their offices, delays in forms processing and ultimately difficulties of assessing information due to poor systems.

“We consult with all farmers on their particular needs and establish with them a project to make their enterprises as productive as possible.
“Once the project is running, our staff, make regular visits, to make sure that things are going to plan.”
He said that with the Xcallibre Digital pen system, visit reports could be filled and submitted with location data and photographs in real time.
The Xcallibre digital pen solution uses a combination of a standardised report forms, digital pens and Bluetooth- GPS/Camera equipped mobile phones.

The extension officer reviews the situation at each farm, completes the form with the digital pen and then captures photographs and GPS coordinates with the phone. The pen downloads the handwritten information to the phone via bluetooth, which then transmits the package of information (form, photo & GPS) to head office for analysis and reporting within seconds.

Xcallibres digital pen solution will enable extension officers to complete data forms while on a farm, with all information being sent directly to a central project administration system known as X-Station which is housed at the departments provincial offices. X-station has also been developed and customized by Xcallibre. It will be used for auditing purposes, management and service delivery purposes and monitoring and evaluation purposes. It will remove the duplication of information collection and reduce the administration time of extension officers, allowing them to focus on more direct service delivery – assisting farmers to produce quality products.

Extension officers are also be able to tap into the central system to access information on crops, blights and other problems, and how these should be managed. In addition, they take photos with their cell phones, which are sent to researchers for their responses. This also allows the department to track its field staff and ensure that the correct sites are visited and reported on each month. An additional benefit is the ability to spatially map all form data and perform spatial analysis to allow for better planning and resource allocation.

All these initiatives are aimed at providing farmers in the Western Cape with more sound and timely advice, to ensure that the resources that they invest and the natural resources that they draw on are used in the most effective manner. These initiatives provide a more thorough service while reducing the environmental impacts of travel.



  • Realtime forms transfer & processing of all forms
  • Real time reporting – forms are sent from the field officers location via mobile handsets
  • Documented and adopted extension methodology, roles and responsibilities, deliverables and outcomes Consolidated provincial
    databases i.e. projects, farms, visits and commodities
  • Consolidated national databases
  • Project and Site visit Admin system
  • Pre – defined reports, alerts (sms/email) exception reports at a click of a button
  • Staff tracking – able to track extension officers via GPS functionality when forms are completed, date/time & routes
  • Spatial GIS mapping of farms/sites
  • Able to attach photographs with submitted forms. Visual representation of farm visits by attaching photos
  • No additional admin resources required for data capturing
  • No need for scanning, fax or postage of forms
  • Quicker turnaround times on farm issues being addressed and for reporting purposes
  • Reduction in phone calls to Extension Officers to monitor where they were and to get required information
  • Less visits to farms as all information was real time and with mandatory fields being programmed into the forms all information was captured at the farm
  • Greater efficiency – faster response to farmers – a simplified approach achieving optimum results
  • No missing or duplicate forms using barcodes & phone validation