Economic value

Standardised electronic data exchange allows growers and auditors to save time on completing, collecting and reviewing (respectively) self-assessment questionnaires and other documents in preparation for audits. An important requirement will be the correctness of the data; in other words, while quality of the fresh produce is the ultimate objective, data quality is a foundational element in achieving this. It also allows importers and retailers to have quick access to information about fruit suppliers, their certificates and information about other buyer-specific criteria. This saves importers time in looking for the right suppliers, especially those importers who do spot-trading, as opposed to working with long-term suppliers. Finally, transparency provides a clear overview of bottlenecks in the value chain, reduces mistakes and waste, as well as identifying problems in quality assurance of fresh produce.

Societal value

In the recent years, there has been a number of scandals in retail in Europe, where European retailers failed to trace food to its origin, and sold products that were (probably) not fit for consumption. Examples include high arsenic levels in grapes from Indian suppliers in 2011. Accurate and timely data allows buyers to see where their products come from and how they are grown. This transparency encourages growers to apply food safety and sustainability standards, and as a result, reduces the incidents of food poisoning, rejections and waste. From a growers’ perspective, an information system helps getting access to more high value markets and raise family income and food security. FarmDigital will lower growers’ barriers to get certified and help comply with increasing consumer standards. With time, enhanced growers’ data exchange can leverage better access to input suppliers and credit.

Scientific value

The envisioned data environment will contain reliable, accessible and verified data about growers and respective fruit supply chains. Good quality data can be used for impact evaluation and other research purposes. Information systems are key in collecting reliable baselines and impact data among growers, what has proofed particularly challenging in developing countries. This saves significant costs that researchers and evaluators spend on determining the effects of farm support programs. This pilot will test whether the pilot systems have enough in-depth and valid data to be used for research purposes related to monitoring and evaluation.
The information systems will offer plenty of research opportunities to measure firm or growers performance or research related to sustainability issues. Performance of firms can be monitored by using good quality data. Data related to a variety of economic, social and environmental subjects can be used to benchmark individuals firms with peers. As soon the project is scaled up among other sectors, it is even possible to benchmark sectors. This can be used for firms to learn from their peers, or researchers can use this data to identify bottlenecks that hamper sustainability initiatives.