In South Africa, the certification process for table grapes is mapped out very precisely within FarmDigital, and this has demonstrated that great time savings can be achieved through digitisation. Robbert Robbemond is one of the researchers who has worked on this in-depth study. He summarises the outcomes for us.
‘The FarmDigital project is intended to simplify the compliance process - also known as the certification process - for growers. Our research is focused on one specific cultivation process: the production of table grapes in South Africa. In an earlier stage of the FarmDigital project, we produced a generic model of the compliance process. On this basis, we have elaborated the processes and information flows for the cultivation of table grapes in Africa in specific terms.’
What prompted the research?
‘A prototype compliance platform has also been developed within FarmDigital. In order to gain more feeling for the business case, it was important to zoom in on the process for one specific product: what time investments are made, to what extent are digital aids used and exactly which processes are important?’
How did you set to work?
‘We held interviews with retailers regarding their requirements and how this has been incorporated into the prototype. We then engaged a consultant in South Africa. The consultant is also an auditor and has a good overview of the compliance process. She looked at the three most important certification schemes in South Africa: GlobalG.A.P., ZISA and BRC. For each of these, she has determined precisely: which information is recorded, which sources are consulted and how much time this costs the grower? She also looked in detail at how much time the audit process costs: how much time does it cost to schedule an appointment with a grower, to receive confirmation, to carry out the audit, and to prepare the report that will be forwarded to the certifying organisation, and how much time does it then take this organisation to review it? The generic model was a valuable aid in this regard. The consultant also produced an estimate of the reliability of the recorded information on the basis of her own experience.’
What is the most important thing to emerge from this?
‘The results allowed us to produce informative graphs (see Figure 1 for an example) that show at a glance how much time the certification process costs: between 80 and 100 hours per scheme. There is plenty of scope for improvement, for instance in the registration of crop protection product use. To this end, the existing report can be easily included as evidence in the appendix of the prototype compliance platform. This alone can save the farmers a lot of time and effort. Matters are less simple where the social requirements are concerned, though digitisation can save time and effort here too. What struck me the most personally was the fact that the various certification schemes ask questions about the same matters but in slightly different ways, making standardisation very tricky. It is a positive thing that the source documents are being looked at more.’
Figure 1: Time invested per certification scheme and sources per scheme
Who is this report aimed at?
‘Companies that develop tools to make compliance processes simpler. It makes it clear where time savings can be made.’
Click here to access the report