Easing The Burden Of GlobalGAP Compliance
Good Agricultural Standards & Practices exist across the globe, which aim to standardize and measure practices against consumer requirements. In the 1990s, a standard was developed in Europe, known as EureGAP. In 2007, they renamed the Standard GlobalGAP, reflecting its adoption in the wider agricultural world. This standard was developed in line with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) guidelines on food safety. As agriculture moves on as an industry, these standards continue to develop with new requirements added and compliance audits becoming more stringent. In an industry as complex as agriculture already is, how can agricultural businesses keep up with these changing compliance needs? That’s easy: technology. With the plethora of technology available though, how can it help not only such a heavily regulated industry as agriculture but what technology will have the biggest impact on a growing agricultural operation?
For a long time, agriculture has seemed like the industry that tech forgot, but at the moment digital transformation is a talking point in every industry. Digitalizing your agricultural business doesn’t need to affect the way you operate or be arduous and unfit-for-purpose. In fact, integrated digital systems are helping agricultural businesses across the world increase their output, maintain high-quality standards, and branch into new markets.
While audits in the US and Canada are currently voluntary, compliance with GlobalGAP is required for exports to Europe and other areas (including China). There are also various other legal requirements to meet that are outlined in mandatory primary legislation, which includes regulation and requirements on traceability concerning pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. This is where ERP platforms can come in – they can manage day-to-day operations, and as a result, automatically chart and catalogue all of the information needed to show compliance.
For example, Sage X3 (also known as Sage Enterprise Management) is an end-to-end solution for managing all aspects of a business, but also includes features designed specifically for the agricultural industry. Its flexibility and modular design mean that you can add, for example,”“packs” containing compliance settings and information from regions all over the world, wherever you’re exporting to. This helps operators easily ensure compliance with legal requirements in all countries they operate in, not just locally.
The sales team for Sage X3 for the Agriculture Industry tells us it was built by people with first-hand agriculture experience, with custom verticals included that help you track and manage processes all the way through their life-cycle. That sounds great in theory, but what does it mean in real terms?
When we look into how the solution works with agriculture specifically, we find that the platform lets you define characteristics for a “Plantation”. Each of these Plantations can be farms, orchards, greenhouses, basically anywhere your products are grown. For each plantation, you can then choose to enter values unique to your business, or simply select from a list of GlobalGAP pre-defined compliance criteria.
You can then create Activity Records for each of those Plantations. These Records can include information about traceability, accountability, or standard record-keeping processes. For each type of Activity Record you create, not only can you enter information about standard stock/produce but you can also designate an item not ordinarily considered stock (think vehicles, machinery or transport staff) to that Activity Record and log the activity with it. Did you inspect the delivery vehicle or staff of the vehicle? You can document that easily here.
If your produce or goods are sent to separate processing or packaging facilities, the Plantation each batch came from can be tracked. This means that you can ensure that batches from specific growers are traceable from start to end, in the event of inspections or enquiries.
Moving onward, once the raw goods are processed and packed, they are given a lot number. By creating a digital chain of events, you double down on ease of traceability. If there is an issue, not only can you easily identify which farm, supplier, or Plantation supplied the affected product, but which delivery (down to the day or week) it came from, where it was packaged and where it went after that. For products that change form, source and destination lot numbers are created to maintain that clear line of processing history.
As we know, agriculture isn’t all about the product. The activity outside of that is just as important. Just like every other industry, human capital management needs to be navigated. When food safety comes into play, it takes on new importance. If your processing activities require a significant amount of human intervention, workers that interact with the produce can be documented. This can be useful where HR or Payroll records indicate that employees have, for example, a viral infection that could affect the food safety process.
What about other capital? Harvesting, processing, packaging, transportation, they all require equipment. In the name of full-picture traceability, digital records can be kept to detail any packing machine or production line allocations. This can then be checked against any records created for planned or preventative maintenance, breakdown or safety inspections. If something goes awry with products that make it to the consumer, a quick audit could show a link between machines used and the issue.
There are other important factors that impact agricultural businesses. Records can be created to record inspection results for outbound containers. Warehouse or cold room temperatures, humidity, or other environmental factors can be logged. Transport zones and carriage fees can help you make the best decisions for transporting your goods. Real-time smart data that impacts, for example, the price of your products can be factored in and reported accurately at any time.
If you’re thinking, “I already document that information,” then, great! Undoubtedly the most valuable things about an agriculture-specific ERP is that it aggregates all of the data you’re already collecting. It simply means that you have access to all of that information in minutes, with just a few mouse clicks. No more months-long audit preparation. This means vital skills are freed up from busy-work to do meaningful work. Beyond reactive report-creating, it can also shed light on what’s coming down the line for future planning. Graphics-based dashboards pull in the data you collect and shed light on new areas of business intelligence, such as financial forecasts or sales statistics.
The Answer Company is happy to announce that the agricultural edition of Sage X3, developed by Artimos in the EU, is now available. To find out what else the solution can do, head over to the solution page here.
You will also be able to find quick links to contact someone from our team who can help you explore how Agriculture for X3 can transform your agricultural business.