By Bhanudas S. | 31 August 2020
Food safety is one of the most important issues that the agriculture industry is grappling with today. Farm management systems can be implemented as a most effective solution to mitigate the food safety problems that are giving rise to multiple other health and agriculture issues in the world. With the advancements in technologies, farm management platforms can make agricultural practices more robust to implement food safety protocols, while making it a part of the New Normals for the agriculture landscape.
The modern agricultural supply chains are undergoing a transformation with the advent of advanced agricultural technologies and growing adoption of farm management systems. Similar to various other farming activities, food safety begins at all the stakeholders in the agricultural supply chains - starting from the farmers in fields through packhouses, to distributors and agricultural retailers.
Food safety issues have taken the form of a global issue, as unsafe food is considered as one of the leading causes of various health disorders. Various health and food organizations at the United Nations have voted to make food safety a public health concern and one of the important prerequisites for food security.
As the problem of food safety is attracting global attention, it is of foremost importance for modern agribusinesses to implement food safety protocol while transforming their business with the adoption of high-tech tools for precision farming and digital agriculture. Here are three ways how any agribusiness can simply ensure food safety practices with the adoption of a robust agriculture management system.
Food safety risks may arise at multiple stages of the agricultural value chain. It is important for diligent agribusinesses to assess fields and plots to identify various food safety issues before implementing processes such as farm planning, commencing the production, and export management. It is important for farming businesses to thoughtfully manage their farming activities, evaluate food safety risks, and then mitigate them with the implementation of a high-tech farm management system.
Furthermore, contamination of soil and water, along with the changing weather conditions due to climate change are among the prominent factors that can affect crop production and ultimately, lead to compromising the crop quality. It is important for farming businesses to have a robust farm management system in place that can simplify the assessment of fields for any food safety products before and during the process of agricultural production.
In recent years, agriculture management has emerged as a useful tool for implementing good food safety protocols. Agriculture management is one of the leading agtech concepts that ensure the management of all farming activities across the farming locations while ensuring the highest food safety standards. Farm management systems are implemented by businesses not only to ensure that a wide range of business risks are managed, but also to mitigate risks vis-a-vis food safety.
Farming with food safety risks in mind can prove to be the most cost effective factor in implementing food safety risk assessment processes with the utmost efficiency. Thereby, incorporating a robust farm management platform for gathering information for risk assessment can prove to be an excellent step towards avoiding various food safety issues in the future.
Advanced farming technologies are being developed and implemented by agribusinesses to stay at the forefront of the competition. In fact, a majority of governing organizations such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN (FAO), recommend agricultural businesses to implement technologies to implement digital farming to further improve their farm productivity.
The investments in innovative tools for precision agriculture do not only reflect improved business outcomes such as increased profitability, productivity, and efficiency, but it also contributes to reducing food safety risks. Modern agribusinesses need to realise the inextricable link between precision agriculture, smart farming, and food safety.
With the implementation of smart farming tools that integrate advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), agribusinesses can map all their farming activities right from farm planning and harvesting to production and post-production with utmost accuracy. This further enhances the quality of the produce and helps in maintaining high standards of production.
FarmERP’s agriculture management platform enables agribusinesses to integrate advanced technological tools including IoT-enabled sensors, drones, actuators, and other appliances, that further contribute to ensuring food safety. The farm management system gathers comprehensive information about smart farming activities and ensures that food safety protocols are followed across the entire agricultural supply chain.
The foremost step of ensuring food safety is to concentrate on consistently producing high-quality and safe agricultural produce. It is important for agribusinesses to understand that the prominent factors that add to the food safety risks are various hazards that the crop is subjected to during the process of agricultural production. This highlights the indispensable relation between on-farm food safety and traceability.
Crops are at the risk of getting contaminated due to biological factors such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites, which pose the greatest food safety risks. Such food can cause various health conditions, especially when it is consumed raw. With a strong farm management system in place, an end-to-end food traceability system can be ensured and it can help in avoiding farm food safety risks more effectively.
In addition to this, agricultural products are highly subjected to food contamination risks due to chemical and physical factors, especially during the post production farming activities. Various chemical products used during the production as well as post production processes such as handling and packaging can lead to cross contamination of food.
While cleaning and sanitizing prove to be the most relevant processes to reduce food safety issues, ensuring farm-to-fork traceability can add to the quality and safety of agricultural produce. Thereby, with the implementation of a smart food traceability system through an agriculture management platform, the possibility of such contamination can be mitigated to a greater extent.
On realising the importance of food traceability in ensuring food safety, a majority of governing bodies have commenced organizing awareness programs for farming businesses. For instance, various on-farm food safety programs have been developed by the Canadian Horticultural Council for fruit and vegetable growers. Such activities emphasise the fact that though traceability does not produce high-quality and safer produce, it definitely helps in identifying the source of a problem that gives rise to food safety issues.