Kenya Breweries Ltd has rolled out a mobile platform to track more than 30,000 contracted sorghum farmers.
Sorghum is the main ingredient in brewing Senator Keg.
KBL managing director Jane Karuku said the platform — Farmforce — will be used to track outgrowers, eliminate paperwork and enable the brewer to be appraised of the growing and harvesting of the raw materials in real time.
“Through this technology, we will be able to track the grain to glass journey. This technology will also enable us to scientifically track the sorghum grown by our contracted farmers and ensure that we are only receiving grain from those on our records,” she said.
Karuku spoke on Thursday during a tour of farms belonging to contracted farmers in Homa Bay. The firm has also contracted farmers in Migori, Kisumu, Siaya and Busia.
Farmforce — a mobile-based cloud solution developed by Syngenta Foundation — has been created to help smallholders gain access to formal markets and improve the effectiveness of outgrower schemes.
It is seen as a game changer since it will make traceability and compliance an integral part of smallholder production and redefine the relationship between growers, manufacturers and markets.
“We will now be able to track the grain from the times of planting because we will be able to estimate, with a high degree of certainty, the harvest we expect from each farmer,” Karuku said.
“In future we hope to use this system to track crops in transit and make payments as well.”
The platform will provide some advantages, including automated data collection and analysis, elimination of paperwork and associated errors, automated reporting for effective management, simplification of government audits and effective communication
All field extension staff have been issued with mobile phones with the app for data collection.
Using the app, East African Maltings Limited (EAML) is able to keep a record of the farmers’ details — their contacts, location and acreage planted — and to monitor the performance of the crop using field maps.
The app makes it possible to forecast the yield and to offer extension services through mass messaging.
Globally, digital produce-tracking is becoming a standard business practice for food processing companies and other manufacturers who depend on farmers for their raw materials. It helps companies maintain their reputations for quality and safety.
“Traceability plays an important role in our expansive value chain. We are able to track our sorghum through all stages; planting, tending to the crops, harvesting and delivery to our factories,” Karuku said.