Nehad Agronomy Services LLc (NAS), popularly known as Al Raja Farms present in Al Suwaiq in Oman, are dedicated partners of FarmERP since 2011 (approximately 9 years). Nehad Agronomy services have multiple farms, one of the biggest ones spanning through 1400 acres of land. Established in 1979, NAS is an agricultural company using sustainable practices to produce and export fruits and vegetables like sweet melons, watermelons, beans, green peppers, color sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, dates, mangoes, carrots, lily cut flowers, and various other seasonal produce.
FarmERP came on board as their digital agronomy partners and monumentally enhanced their productivity and offerings. FarmERP is a leading farm-to-plate smart agriculture management ERP technology platform that works with individual farmers, contract farming companies, corporates, FPOs and various other entities alike, providing a rigorous and revolutionary amalgamation of agriculture and technology with tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, satellite imagery, etc.
Before collaborating with FarmERP, NAS handled the management of their farms using simple pieces of paper with the occasional use of excel spreadsheets. In the beginning, to tackle this massive challenge, their multi-locational farms (open field crops) and greenhouse crops were mapped completely–FarmERP studied the land infrastructure and the crop infrastructure, along with their packhouses.
With multiple plots, multiple SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) for multiple products, another challenge was mapping the activities and occurrences that the farm manager was taking care of, i.e., analytics and details on the optimum water amount, fertilizers and the practices to be followed. With the assistance of FarmERP, after the crop infrastructure mapping was complete, they could progressively provide NAS with a schedule of ‘good agricultural practices’, or a ‘package of practices’ to be carried out on the fields. This gave the management a complete detailed account of what unique sorts of activities or tasks would need to be completed within a particular period on a particular plot. This also included other details such as the manpower that would be required, the machinery hours, the water, and chemicals. Post this, they were able to begin with the execution phase.
Through a task calendar issued by FarmERP, the farm managers started getting alerts on daily task allocations. With these real-time allocations, the agronomists could have a complete overview as to how their days, weeks, and months would pan out in terms of the activities to be carried out along with inputs provided with the data. This foresight enabled NAS to manage their inventory with ease. The issuing of goods, movement of goods, issuing to the farm, consumption on the farm, taps on expiry dates, and usage was tracked regularly ensuring minimal ‘dead inventory’. Multiple stores at multiple locations were tracked diligently, and they took consumption patterns of each plot into account. This control allowed NAS to drill down and gauge an idea as to their monetary spending on each plot, along with arranging and making adequate inventory requirements for the future.
An imperative pointer to note where FarmERP lent support to NAS was in terms of water scarcity. Water scarcity is one of the foremost and most prevalent problems faced by individuals in the middle east, hence, using water in an optimized manner is extremely important. FarmERP’s technology enables NAS to understand their requirements of water for each plot, on a day-to-day basis. This progressed to help in saving the consumption of water along with planning and saving on the manpower, which is another costly resource.
Another innovative feature brought to the table was that of ‘crop rotation’. Agronomists cannot cultivate the same crop in the same plot of land for continuous seasons as that diminishes the quality of the produce. The right crop rotation is based completely on science and trials can be done where small amounts of multiple crops can be cultivated for trials where they can record the observations. At the end of this trial period, they can choose the best produce to go ahead with for the required season resulting in the finest level of output.
In 2019, an AI-based Climate-Smart feature was brought into the mix introducing a few different and additional features like machine learning, computer vision, deep learning, and various other ready features that were introduced into the operations of this farm. Controlling pests, diseases, and water intake, became a much easier process with this software and preventive mechanics put in place. They have reduced the usage of chemicals hazardous for human health because of smart agricultural practices.
In these times of uncertainty, people are extremely wary and cautious regarding the produce entering their homes. Is it fit for consumption? Is it contaminated? These are the two most widely asked questions in every household. Implementation of food safety and traceability ensured that when the fruits and vegetables from NAS reach the marketplace, they are residue-free and safe. The agronomists are warned about any plot not fit for harvest with the technology provided with implementing FarmERP.
Due to everything being organized in a fashion wherein it was apparent where the gaps were present, and where assistance was required, the management proceeded to have complete control over all activities being carried out in the farms. This improved the operational efficiency of the farm by 25%.
Shauwn Basson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Middle East of Nehad Agronomy Services stated, ‘’The integration of digital working patterns with agricultural practices has allowed NAS to work towards identifying the right product mix for the market in every season. This, in turn, has improved productivity and profitability to a large extent.’’
Inventory management was recorded, taking into consideration the minutest details, e.g., numbers as small as 50ml of 250ml of chemicals were being recorded. In turn, 15% was saved on inventory costs, and interest rates were reserved as well. Due to water being consumed at optimal levels, NAS was able to save 5% on their water consumption costs. Their manpower usually consists of ex-pats and local nationals which are of high value, NAS was able to save 5-10% on their labor costs through proper planning and foresight as to how many manpower hours were required to carry out their operations. Optimizing machinery usage saved them 5% on their machinery costs as well.
Ultimately, following all these practices set forth by the technology implemented through FarmERP, NAS can reach their fundamental goal, which is the cultivation and harvesting of outstanding quality produce.
The Managing Director, Mr. Al Muhalab Al Busaidi stated, ‘’With FarmERP, NAS was able to take the initiative of practicing digital agriculture in the middle east. Since we have adopted these practices since 2011, we feel we are always one step ahead. In times of uncertainty, it is always best to have science back your organizational processes.’’