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How Omniactive curbed losses and saved costs using a mobile app

Ershad Kaleebullah | April 29, 2013
If someone told you that the fortunes of one of India's largest nutraceutical companies rest on the tiny petals of marigold flowers, you'd probably rubbish their claim.

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.

Picture Perfect

To take the implementation a notch or two higher, Ahmed insisted on agents sending photos of the farms to the scientists.

At the end of every two weeks, agents need to click a photograph of their assigned farms from their smartphones and upload it to the FMS. The scientists working at the agricultural center of excellence can use the photographs to analyze rainfall patterns, temperature patterns, and based on that correlate the growth of marigolds. So if something is amiss, corrective steps can be taken immediately. "Thanks to this, the gap between the experts and the ground level farmers has come down," says Jawed.

The company got a taste of the advantages of this system when last year one of the agents uploaded a photo of a small farm in Hassan. The scientists discovered pests in the farm.

It was a continuous farm with 300 farmers and 1,000 acres under cultivation. "While we noticed the pest problem in one of the sections of the farms, we also noticed that this problem was present in three other sections as well. Immediately, we decided to get rid of the pest problem or else we would have lost almost a quarter of our produce," adds Jawed.

While it was important for the company to keep an eye on the evolution of marigolds through photographs, it was also important to ensure that agents visited farms they have been assigned to at least once a week.

 

But how was Omnikan going to make sure that agents visited their assigned farms and entered the relevant data onto the FMS?

There was one way: Geo-tagging. To do that, the latitude and longitude details for each farm were added to the master data. Doing this enabled the company to restrict agents from entering data from their farms only.

 

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