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Using tech to maximise farming performance

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Fruit and veg vendor

South African agricultural businesses should invest in modern business management solutions to improve their efficiency and competitiveness in a challenging market.

Those that adopt a solution tailored to the sector will be able to automate business processes, gain access to more timely and accurate business information, and ultimately boost productivity and profitability.

With South African farmers facing complex challenges – from the effects of recent droughts in parts of the country, to skills shortages and a lack of financing – many agribusinesses are looking to improve productivity across their operations.

Adopting solutions that are tailored to the needs of their niche in the agriculture market – whether that is meat, wine, fruit or nuts – can help them to maximise the performance of their business. Agriculture has the potential to be a major growth industry for South Africa, with demand rising for food as the world’s population grows. Farmers and food processing businesses must seize this opportunity by investing in the right technology.

South African farmers are gathering this week at the NAMPO Agricultural Trade Show to see the latest innovations in agriculture. When it comes to IT, the industry has specialised needs – some of which vary between different types of farming. Most traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems don’t address the unique business processes found in the industry.

Tailored to the industry

Braam Koekemoer, Regional Manager: Africa at Aritmos, says that most standard ERP software can’t support unique processes in the farming sector straight out of the box. Aritmos is an independent software vendor developing specialist agriculture functionality for the Sage Enterprise Management system.

For example, it is common for wholesalers and manufacturers to pay growers and producers based on the grade or quality of their products. Growers often don’t provide companies with purchase invoices. But with the right software in place, buyers can generate invoices on behalf of producers, and manage advance payments and final settlement after delivery.

Visibility into costs

Farmers need a solution designed for their business, if they want an accurate view of costs and profits, especially if they manage multiple farming sites or crops. In an environment where competition is high, a farmer needs to have complete visibility into their business.

They need to be able to manage and have complete control of their inventory. Business management solutions offer agribusinesses integration of all processes from growth to packing and, lastly, to closing the deal.

Koekemoer says that putting a business solution in place is a foundation for the future growth of the business. In addition to helping agribusinesses to enhance productivity, efficiency and quality, it also gives them the platform on top of which they can adopt the next wave of digital technologies – from robotics, drones and the Internet of Things, to precision farming – and transform their businesses into high-tech operations.