Digital Transformation in Agriculture
A global agribusiness sources its farm-produce from over 150,000 small-acreage farmers within a certain radius of their factories. They needed to maintain accurate details about each farm to efficiently purchase and pay for the farm produce.
Secondly, as agricultural commodities are sold in a futures market, it is important to make a reasonably accurate prediction of the production yield in the next year.
Finally, given the perishable nature of the produce, they needed to balance the supply of farm-produce with the process lines for their factories to for greater efficiency and yield.
Extentia built them an Android tablet-based app that connected to their Oracle system over the cellphone network to enable their field supervisors to collect data accurately and take real-time decisions in concert with the headquarters.
This project serves as a good example of Extentia’s experience and expertise in: 1. Digital transformation solutions 2. Agriculture domain knowledge 3. Enterprise Mobility solutions 4. Designing UI/UX for non-technical field supervisors
The company relied on a team of 300 field supervisors to track the required information. This information was collected on hand-filled forms and caused a considerable time-lag and inaccuracies in the transfer of information.
Since the size of the 150,000 farms was recorded on the basis of hearsay and a farm might only cultivate a portion of the area during a year, there was a tremendous opportunity to improve the accuracy of this data.
At harvest time, an over-supply would result in lost yield due to evaporation and drying, whereas an under-supply would result in the factory being under-utilized. In the absence of real-time data, it was difficult for field supervisors to make a decision on whether to harvest the crop based on matching the crop maturity along with real time factory-loading at that time. To enable quick, accurate and updated data to be collected from the fields and stored centrally – and to allow the exchange of real-time data, the company needed an app to improve the entire workflow and accelerate the decision-making process.
To get a detailed understanding of the company’s processes and workflow, Extentia’s team made a field visit to the company and maintained steady communication via phone and email. After preparing detailed mock-ups of the proposed application the client decided to move forward with this digital transformation. The development team created an Android-based tablet application which accessed the existing data on the farms and farmers – and could register new farms as well.
The application integrated GPS functionality which allowed the field supervisor to more accurately map the farm and the portion of the farm under cultivation. If the field supervisor was in an area with no or poor connectivity, all operations were still available offline. The data could be stored locally and then exchanged with the central servers when the device was back online.
During harvest time, the field supervisors communicated the maturity of the crop to the factory manager. Factory managers, in turn, conveyed their decisions on harvesting orders to the field supervisors in real time.
Transforming their agricultural process to digital provided a wide range of advantages to the user: • With much greater data accuracy and data retrieval, the company saw a great boost to efficiency • In addition to greatly improving accuracy, the app helped eliminate the need for 10% of the field supervisors • With far more accurate mapping (area under cultivation with all the details of crop type, irrigation, etc.) the prediction of future crop yields significantly helped the company to make more accurate pricing decisions in the futures market • The improved real-time reporting and live synchronization of information made harvesting decisions much more effective and improved factory utilization
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