The eDairy conference held at Safari Park Hotel brought industry players to discuss how ICT can be used to transform the dairy industry in Africa, and Kenya in particular. This was in preparation for the expected country wide roll out of the on-going e-Dairy project. Participants were expected to update themselves with the latest products, services, ICT tools and devices that would serve the sector under the project. Among other areas, there were eleven eDairy topics of interest, which covered such areas as ICT opportunities and solutions to the management and administration of various aspects of the dairy sector, and a marketing tool for milk and dairy products through the Kenya Dairy Web Portal.
The dairy industry is the most advanced of the livestock subsectors dominated by smallholders with over 75% of the total output. However, the subsector faces challenges on financing, training, traceability, processing and oversupply. These challenges can be addressed by integrating more partners and parameters with ICT innovations that aid automatic decision making. The idea of a web portal that centralizes content management, business and data intelligence and an eRegistry of persons, assets and businesses was born with these in mind. Information on dairy operations and management, movement of dairy products, milk quality, registration of farmers and livestock, dairy markets, databases of suppliers and processors are some of the raison d'être of the web portal.
All the areas listed above are important if thought out and implemented properly because industry players will access information on quality products and services wherever they are as long as they are connected to the internet. Of the most concern is the smallholder dairy farmer who forms 75% of the primary producers in the milk value chain. Others of equal importance in the chain are the processors, transporters, marketers, policy makers and other chain actors because the competitiveness of a product depend on the efficiency of all players along the value chain. The eDairy ICT platform will therefore offer support and services that will enhance efficiency along the entire chain.
Many components are lined up for the platform but I want to discuss the three which I think is central to the success of the project.
Livestock registration, identification and traceability system
With the increasing global awareness on food safety, environment concerns on global warming and other issues, regulations and directives to address these issues have come up. The case of Rift Valley Fever in 2007 is well known. Of immediate concern are the EU Food Regulations 178/2002 and the Bioterrorism Act. The competitiveness of our food products will depend on compliance to these regulations.
Livestock registration, identification and traceability is the process of entering livestock particulars such as farms, owners and unique features in a centralized database and tagging the livestock with electronic or conventional tags such that the livestock can be followed the whole of its lifetime.
The ICT platform will require government issued or recognized documents such as title deeds, national identification cards, passport books, livestock birth certificates, movement permits and slaughter permits. Dairy animals will be identified through RFID or bolus tags. Information of all transactions is kept in a centralized electronic database.
Livestock eBreeding System
Agent details are stored in a databank where it can be accessible to authorized users. Among the important details are names, contact details and location. Each agent has a unique identification code. Agents can order for semen and make payments online. Payment records are maintained and receipts can be traced and retrieved. Agents are required to record semen distribution to AI technicians who must also be registered.
The system will have semen stock and AI equipment with unique identifiers. The cost and quantity are available to the agent whenever he wants to make a purchase. To make a purchase the agent login and orders the items required. The orders are received and once authorized, payments are made through bank cheques or credit/debit cards. Orders can then be dispatched to the agent. All this happen online.
Mobile payment system
Smart cards (Maziwa card) or milk collection system-cards and a handheld device will be used during milk collection. The information stored on the card can be downloaded and captured in the eDairy ICT platform. The farmer gets his payment at the point of delivery and the value is inputted to his Maziwa card which is tied to his mobile. Merchants who wish to accept this payment must sign up to the system. Once payment is made the value is immediately available to the whole supply chain.
Advantages to the farmer are that he gets the benefits of traceability, amounts can be controlled, and more financing options are available. The farmer gets his daily household needs as well as access to quality inputs. Farmers can get anything on credit based on milk volumes and information is available to the farmer over SMS. Product and service providers benefits from electronic records and having more farmers spend on quality inputs. Processors gain by improved cash flow since the farmer does not have to push for his payment.