Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has introduced a mobile platform to enhance its accuracy in tracking sorghum grown by more than 30,000 farmers contracted to grow the Senator Keg raw material.
The mobile phone solution, dubbed Farm force, will be used to track out-growers, eliminate paperwork and enable the brewer to be informed of the growing and harvesting of raw materials in real time according to KBL Managing Director, Jane Karuku.
“Through this technology, we will be able to track the grain to glass journey. This technology will also enable us to scientifically track the sorghum grown by our contracted farmers and ensure that we are only receiving grain from those on our records,” said Mrs. Karuku.
Farm force is a mobile-based cloud solution developed by Syngenta Foundation. It has been created to help smallholders gain access to formal markets and improve the effectiveness of out-grower schemes.
Mobile technology in the industry is expected to be a game changer as it will allow them to make traceability and compliance as an integral part of smallholder production. It will redefine the relationship between growers, manufacturers, and markets.
“We will now be able to track the grain from the times of planting because we will be able to estimate, with a high degree of certainty, the harvest we expect from each farmer,” said Mrs. Karuku adding that it also meant that they would have the capacity to ensure they were only taking in sorghum from their contracted farmers with hopes to use the system to track crops in transit and make payments too.
The solution is expected to provide key merits such as automated data collection and analysis, simplification of government audits and effective management, elimination of paperwork and associated errors, automated reporting for effective management and communication with farmers.
Using Farm force, East African Maltings Limited (EAML) is able to keep a record of the farmers’ details such as their contacts, location, and acreage planted. Farm force will enable monitoring of the crop’s performance using field maps. The app makes it possible to forecast the yield and offer extension services through mass messaging.
Digital produce tracking, globally, is becoming a standard business practice for food processing companies and other manufacturers who tend to depend on farmers for their raw materials. This is important in maintaining a company’s reputation for safety and quality produce.
“Traceability plays an important role in our expansive value chain. We are able to track our sorghum through all stages; planting, tending to the crops, harvesting, and delivery to our factories. The tracking also ensures that the sorghum we receive is sourced from our contracted farmers, ensuring that we maintain the quality of our products,” noted Mrs. Karuku.
KBL is working with 15000 farmers from Siaya, Migori, Homabay, Kisumu, and Busia, who will supply the Kisumu Brewery valued at 15 billion shillings, with white sorghum for the production of Senator Keg beer.