"The erratic schedules were a cause for concern. We could not possibly process the entire produce in one go and as a result, we ended up losing business," says Ahmed. Omnikan knew it had to make the process real-time and get rid of erratic schedules. There was only one way to do that: Set up a farm management system (FMS) on a private cloud.
Sitting on the cloud, the FMS provided agents and scientists with an interface that could be logged into from different locations in real-time. The FMS was a one-stop shop for agents, scientists, and accounting teams as it covered the entire cycle from registering a farmer to paying the farmer for the produce. Agents had to update the data weekly for scientists to provide their inputs. Missing the weekly deadline would trigger a reminder SMS that would be sent to agents' phones. But the agents sprung a surprise on Ahmed. It was imperative for agents to physically go to the field to check the development of marigolds but they were sitting at home and updating the FMS from their smartphones. "We didn't realize that the Web-based solution would work on phones and expected agents to enter the data from our office. We got thinking and realized that even though implementing a solution on the smartphone could be a security risk, it would work if we put in some checks and balances and use it to our advantage," he says. Omnikan decided to take the plunge and build an app in-house based on the Android platform for the agents and farmers.
For starters, the company decided to provide agents and farmers--who had more than 5 acres of land to their name--with Huawei smartphones. Providing phones to the farmers simplified the overall process as now they could update the FMS themselves. For smaller farmers, agents would continue visiting fields and sending updates about the development of marigolds. However, the agents were only allowed to perform data entry on the application for security reasons. Initially, agents used to enter data onto the app, which was then stored in a repository. This data would then be uploaded by officials at Omnikan onto the FMS, from where the scientists can view it. To enable real time reporting of data, Ahmed--who had outsourced the development of this to third-party developers--had all the functionalities of the FMS built into the mobile app as well. Today, every stage of the harvest cycle is monitored through the smartphone app and Omnikan can now accurately predict when to expect the final produce. "Accordingly, we schedule our factory operations. When the final produce leaves the farm for our factory, agents weigh the flowers and enter the data into the smartphone. For payments to the farmer, this data is integrated with our ERP," says Ahmed. Omnikan didn't stop at that.
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