The Agritrade fair, held in Guatemala at the end of last month, brought together members from all over the sector and presented many new innovations. One of them is Farmforce, a new farm management tool. Farmforce is a revolutionary software that helps producers of all types of crops with their traceability, from the field to the consumers, and offers many other advantages.
Farmforce is made up of an application for mobile devices, which can also be used without an internet connection, and a web page that is stored on international servers, so companies do not have to invest in technology to use it anywhere that they are. This tool makes it possible to centralize in a single application all types of agricultural processes, such as the management of small farmers and their individual production data.
Traceability and much more
Currently, international regulations require producers to implement standards, controls, and procedures to address issues such as traceability, preventive controls or removal of contaminated products, areas in which Farmforce is very useful, as it allows exporters to organize and supervise farmers, both large and small, as well as their activities, their use of pesticides and fertilizers and traceability, all at a distance and in real time. It can also manage product inventories and store data to see how crops perform over the seasons.
When used on mobile devices, it has the great advantage of interconnectivity: used on a mobile phone it can read labels and bar codes, take photographs of the state of a crop or terrain, survey or even link the device with a portable printer to print receipts directly in the field. In addition, it can be used to record all the training given to producers, which helps producers obtain certifications, such as GlobalGAP or Fair Trade, and have a much greater control of producers in the field of traceability. Finally, it is possible to use it to create databases to forecast the harvest and to know in real time at which stage the production is, in order to clarify and optimize the entire supply chain.
To organize all this relevant information to the supply chain, Farmforce is much better than paper systems, as they can easily be mislaid and are not always available when the data is needed (for example, in the field), not to speak of the chaos there is when you have a portfolio of more than 50,000 producers.
Food Safety Modernization Act
Farmforce is also very important in the face of the new US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which is already in force and requires stricter regulations on issues such as traceability, preventive controls, water controls, post-harvest processes, product handling, etc. Farmforce helps producers adapt to these new regulations to comply with this new law.
Farmforce was created by the Syngenta Foundation team and has the support of many companies around the world. The pilot of this project was carried out in Kenya but, thanks to the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a USAID-funded program implemented by Fintrac, Farmforce moved to Guatemala in 2013 through an alliance with Mercy Corps. There, it was tested with snap peas, as they are one of the country's most cultivated products and the one that has the most small producers, as there are nearly 50,000 families in the country devoted to this production.
Currently, many exporters use Farmforce to improve their management of farmers, which has greatly facilitated the sale of products in international markets. The software is astonishingly versatile, as it was designed to be functional with all types of fruit and vegetables crops, but it can also be used for other products, such as coffee, cotton, and so on. This software helps companies and farmers keep the US market open.