By harnessing the power of advanced digital technologies and increasing real-time visibility into every part of the value chain, supply chain organizations can more proactively identify areas of potential risk prior to an issue, or more quickly notice and respond to disruption. Unsurprisingly, several organizations across sectors are embracing disruptive technologies and accelerating digital transformation. According to a Gartner survey, 38% of organizations are improving supply chain technology to support end-to-end processes, and half of supply chain organizations will have invested in artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics by 2024.
Digital transformation is heralding the transformation of supply chain management across many industries to drive growth, optimize costs, and mitigate risks. As the world is going digital, the agri-input sector is also following suit to meet the business challenges. Since climate changes, intensive manual work, slower financial transactions, and many such challenges in agriculture have already raised the concern of efficiency of the agricultural supply chain, digital has become the key to managing these challenges effectively. It helping to:
● Generate data-driven plans with data visualization
● Eliminate supply chain glitches
● Easy access to Just-in-time
● Better financial management
● A proactive approach to predicting future requirements
● Minimized lead time for procurement and order execution
Supply chain challenges in agri-input industry
A value chain includes the flow of information, products, knowledge, finance, and social capital to produce high-quality products and generate more income along the agricultural supply chain. But, first, let’s understand the agri-input supply chain and its respective challenges.
Farm inputs: Many decisions are involved in selecting chemicals, fertilizers, seeds, machinery, planting material, and equipment. The key stakeholders in the agricultural sector include suppliers and farmers.
Challenges: Often, farmers lack access to transparent pricing and market information. They also lack the information about buying the correct quantity of fertilizers and chemicals while switching to a new product.
Farming, cultivation, and harvesting process: This stage includes critical decisions related to the selection of crops, field layouts and designs, frequency of irrigation, and other interventions required to maintain the expected time, growth, and method for harvesting. The key decision makers at this stage are farmers, but they coordinate with suppliers, governments, research organizations, and NGOs.
Challenges: Farmers are mostly unaware of the supply chain management best practices and information related to product usage. They are also unsure about the required resources, choice of right crop to grow, and soil’s nutritional content. The labor availability and resource scarcity also pose a significant challenge at this stage.
Processing and handling after production: Farmers make the major decisions related to harvesting, precooling, disinfecting, sorting, grading, packaging, and storage.
Challenges: There are a lot of losses after the harvesting process that reduces the value of produced crops in a significant manner. These losses are attributed to poor storage facilities, lack of advanced infrastructure, inefficient operations, timeliness, etc.
Distribution and transportation: Farmers make the decisions of threshing or dying, storehouses or warehouses to distribute and transport the crops to the wholesalers and retailers.
Challenges: The poor handling of crops and storage issues extend to transporting poor quality or damaged crops. In addition, theft and counterfeits are also very common.
Retailing: The retailers work on the market linkage, product marketing, and pricing strategy. This stage also includes government interventions to ensure proper compliance and agricultural guidelines.
Challenges: Retailers have to rely on many intermediaries due to a lack of direct platforms that reduce their profit margins. A lack of product information, nutritional content, and sources also leads to limited branding and promotion.
Consumer: Consumers are also a vital part of the agri-input supply chain as their changing demands and preferences influence the critical decisions of retailers and farmers.
Challenges: It becomes difficult to collect and track consumer behavior data and preferences and access consumer insights. It limits the ability of farmers to improve the value of crops.
How does digital transformation help in overcoming supply chain challenges?
Digital technologies can dramatically improve how value is preserved and generated at every stage of the agricultural supply chain. Here are some ways digital technologies can help overcome value chain challenges:
● Precision farming can be used to evaluate the health and soil parameters. It helps in determining the insights correctly and making informed decisions.
● Use autonomous tractors instead of manual labor for the sowing and harvesting process.
● Leveraging Artificial Intelligence platforms to bridge the gap between farmers and agri-input companies.
Farming, cultivation, and harvesting:
● Soil testing and mapping technologies can be used to estimate the correct quantity of fertilizer usage.
● AI-based crop imaging and monitoring.
● Innovative irrigation system to maintain the moisture level of the soil.
● Automated harvesting solutions.
● Robotics for precise picking.
Distribution and transportation:
● Internet of Things and blockchain technologies to track the crop sources and identification of counterfeit products.
● Get real-time updates of in-transit crops/goods with cloud solutions and mobile apps.
● Information sharing applications for farmers to get real-time market insights.
● Direct selling platforms.
● Precision farming techniques to get the nutritional values.
● Use of blockchain technologies to track the source and origin of food.
● Consumer analytics platform to track their preferences.
Get started to overcome your supply chain management challenges today
When you know that your business is prone to many challenges at each stage of the supply chain, it is time to get started with digitization. As real-time visibility, powerful insights and robust forecasting become an essential part of the businesses in the agri-input sector, the need to embrace the digital supply chain has become more vital than ever. Connect with us to get your free consultation now and discover the ways to transform your agri-input supply chain and improve business performance leveraging advanced technologies.