Increasing demand for transparency of growers’ practices

Consumers and retailers increasingly demand transparency of growers’ practices for food safety and sustainability. Consequently, the average fruit grower that wants to export to Europe has to comply with GlobalG.A.P., one or two social standards and a number of additional buyers requirements. The yearly costs for this level of compliance can easily add up to €10,000 a year, per grower. Collected compliance data often resides with 3rd parties and data re-use is minimal. 
Although standards for safe and sustainable food covers similar issues, asking for the same pieces of evidence, standardisation in data gathering is limited. This significantly increases the overhead for all chain players, where the same data is entered several times into different systems, with broadly the same purpose. This inefficiency of data exchange is the key problem addressed by this Public Private Partnership. Enhancing the entry and use of data, rather than harmonizing compliance requirement per se, is central.
Costa Rica and South Africa are major fruit supplying countries for the European market and important for the European economy. For crops like table grapes and melon The Netherlands is the key export partner. An emerging issue in these fresh chains is the complexity and administrative burden of compliance to food safety and sustainability standards.

Standardization and verification of data

This calls for standardization and verification of data in an Open Information Architecture (OIA) that links the different transparency requirements of consumers, standard-setting organisations and buyers. Thereby facilitating growers’ data collection and access to markets and allowing for cheaper and simpler auditing. 
FarmDigital aims to find whether the introduction of a data exchange system is a way to bring down the provision costs of transparency. To achieve this, we aim to improve data management at growers level by standardising and digitalizing data for more transparency on safe and sustainable fruit consumption.

We aim for two specific impacts
Help growers comply with standards (market access) by standardizing and combining data requirements for certification and monitoring systems like Sedex and additional retail requirements. This will reduce costs throughout the value chain;
To improve transparency of produce sourced from countries with higher risk levels for food safety and sustainability. It will achieve a broader spectrum of data available, up to consumer level with better data quality at greater speed.

Results

·        One simple farm interface to collect data for all requirements;

·        Farmer owns data and needs to enter only once;

·        Data and evidence linked between standards;

·        Tailor-made messages compiled form standardised messages;

·        FarmDigital designs and tests new ways of growers’ data collection and sharing.

Overall

FarmDigital is a ‘Design Oriented Research’ within agriculture and horticulture. This means that we focus on solving problems by applying smart design in practice. A crucial point within ‘Design Oriented Research’ is the testing of the design in Costa Rica and South Africa through a ‘Proof of Concept’. For the testing we make use of a precompetitive platform. 
The duration of the program is two years and is carried out from January 2015 till December 2016. LEI Wageningen UR is the coordinator of the programme.