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There are clear value drivers that should be achieved which include promotion of technology in contract farming in Zimbabwe
The use of mobile technology has been extended to the agriculture sector, particularly contract farming, through Agro Axess, a mobile application developed by Expert Decision Systems (XDS). Agro Axess is an advanced crop input-output management solution, hosted by Zimbabwe’s largest and most comprehensive agriculture risk management company. It provides merchants with comprehensive electronic administration platform, complemented with advanced debtor management solutions. Agro Axess helps merchants to manage the administration of multiple contract farmers using an electronic interface that manages the farming process from farmer selection, to timeous logistic delivery of inputs, and ultimately delivery of yield.
In the current state of commercial agriculture, disbursement of inputs to multiple contract farmers is a highly administrative process, with significant amount of manual processes. Ensuring that each farmer has the appropriate inputs in a timeous manner is very cumbersome, owing to significant amount of paper-based administration of contracts, logistics, input disbursements and output reconciliation. As consequence of managing multiple relationships using paper-based processes, merchants incur significant leakages during the disbursement of inputs and production of output.
Through the adoption of Agro Axess, re-engineering the current operating environment has resulted in a shift from manual paper-based processes to a highly integrated and automated platform. A data management solution, whereby merchant farmers can easily access information regarding a farmer’s creditworthiness and total inputs disbursed through a centralised database, is most fitting. Through this platform merchant farmers are immediately advised of the contracted farmer’s credit history, including any double-dipping and side-marketing activities.
The mobile application was specifically designed for contracting companies. It makes it easier for contractors to record and monitor agricultural field work by the contracting firm’s field officers or agents.
Agriculture has traditionally been the largest employer of the Zimbabwean economy and the importance of financing small scale and communal farmers is evident so as to reposition the country as the bread basket of Southern Africa. The highest proportion of employed persons in the country have their occupations in agriculture and this is more or less the same proportion when agriculture employed about 53% of the population in the 1980s. Agriculture occupied a central place in the Zimbabwean economy, contributing 15 to 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It contributed over 40% of national export earnings and 60% of manufacturers are dependent on agriculture for raw materials or as a market for inputs. This shows that agriculture has been and will remain the backbone of this economy and therefore deserves great attention. It is essential to complement the growing number of farmers with a growth in terms of output, productivity and quality as the performance of the agricultural sector determines the overall level of people’s living standards and development of the local economy.
In conclusion, agriculture can be enhanced through the use of relevant technology such as the Agro Axess application developed by XDS and sound credit management tools. The success of the all productive sectors and thus this economy is dependent on agriculture and it is in our hands to ensure that we revamp this sector.
Farayi Dyirakumunda is a Director at XDS Zimbabwe, a Credit Reference Bureau and risk management company. He can be contacted on [email protected].