Formal markets can increase the number of potential buyers for smallholder produce, but these markets require traceability and compliance to food safety standards; something which has traditionally been challenging and time consuming.

How can we help GLOBALG.A.P. certified smallholders gain better access to formal markets and improve the effectiveness of out-grower schemes? Well, now there’s an app for that!

Farmforce (http://www.farmforce.com/), a Software-as-a-Service solution, developed by Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, is helping to change the game by using mobile technology to make traceability and compliance an integral part of smallholder production and to redefine the relationship between growers, manufacturers and markets.

Syngenta Foundation and the Swiss government began developing the system in 2011 with a team of 10 software engineers at a cost of
$ 2 million. The system was piloted in June last year and employs mobile technology that field agents of horticultural exporters can use to update their records and monitor quality.

The Farmforce/GLOBALG.A.P. solution targets small-scale producers in the fruit and vegetables sector. The app includes a self-assessment checklist based on the GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) Standard with reference to all the documentation requirements.

Farmforce offers several benefits including:

  • An easy-to-use interface for completing GLOBALG.A.P. IFA self-assessment checklists.
  • A practical way to show evidences and documents of GLOBALG.A.P. requirements and control points.
  • Quick access to digital documentation via smart devices and web browsers.
  • Export and data transmission features for sending digital GLOBALG.A.P. checklists to external or internal auditors for audit preparations, resulting in a cost reduction of the whole assessment and audit process. 
  • A tool to manage data transfer from Farm Assurers/field officers to a central office.

Adisagua, GLOBALG.A.P. and Farmforce – A Case Study

Adisagua is a smallholder agricultural initiative in Guatemala, under the umbrella of parent company FairFruit. Launched in 2010, the GLOBALG.A.P. certified producer group comprising 1,350 farmers across a total area of 500 hectares, signed up to Farmforce with the aim of enhancing its grower management capability. In the first year of the partnership, Farmforce covered 16 percent of farmers in the Adisagua initiative. In 2014 all 1,350 smallholders will be enrolled in the scheme.

Before partnering with Farmforce, the project faced the challenge of efficiently collecting information on farmers and their harvesting activity. As smallholders were spread across vast distances, field agents were required to spend half a day every week collecting data and sending it to headquarters. The traditional paper-based system also meant it was impossible for management to collect data on specific farm activity, with information only available at famer group level. The Adisagua scheme signed up to Farmforce with the expectation that it would help overcome some of these challenges, providing a tool for more effective grower management.

In August 2013, Farmforce technology was rolled out across a 150-hectare area, covering 220 French bean smallholder farms. Information about farmers, field profiles and harvested yields is now collected and uploaded in real-time.

As field agents spend less time processing data, they are able to dedicate more energy to strategic activities, such as demonstrating new technology in fields, or testing new products. Collecting data at the farmer level also allows the performance of individual smallholders to be evaluated, ensuring technical assistance and training is targeted where it is needed most.

The results:

  • Easier compliance with GLOBALG.A.P. requirements.
  • Greatly enhanced information on individual farmers, including their personal profiles and locations.
  • Information transfer between the field and head office has decreased from several days to an hour.
  • Traceability of smallholder groups is now 10 times more precise.
  • Farmforce adoption increased from 16 percent of farmers in 2013 to 100 percent in 2014.

Learn more about this innovative approach in emerging countries at the GLOBALG.A.P. SUMMIT 2014, held on 27-29 October in Abu Dhabi. Meet an expert who has implemented the solution and discuss challenges and opportunities for a broader rollout.

To learn more about Farmforce’s features and benefits as well as read about the first successful pilots and case studies, go to www.farmforce.com.