Oracle Customer Success — UT Grain Management (Pty) Ltd

UT Grain Management (Pty) Ltd

UT Grain Management Uses Oracle to Improve the Lives of African Farmers

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The core benefit of our Oracle Database is that it lets us convert data into information. This allows for intelligent decision making, ensuring every investment yields the greatest return. In our line of work, that means successful projects that will drastically improve the lives of the farmers and their communities, helping them to escape the poverty trap.

— Dr Andre van der Vyver, Founder, UT Grain Management (Pty) Ltd

UT Grain Management Helps Southern African Farming Communities Thrive with Cloud Database

UT Grain Management (UTGM) is a risk management consulting company that serves the grain industry. With offices in South Africa and Mozambique, UTGM works with aid and financial organizations to provide rural farmers throughout Africa the training and resources necessary to overcome the food security and production challenges that plague the region.

While development projects in the rural regions of Africa are common, they are neither simple, short term, nor inexpensive. With most projects lasting from three to five years and costing hundreds of millions of dollars, access to project information and the ability to mine insights from them can mean the difference between a successful aid project and life-altering outcomes for entire communities.

In the past, UTGM sent trainers into the fields to gather information from the farmers about what crops were most successful, where, and which farmers had received what training. The trainers captured data manually in a spreadsheet and returned it to UTGM by mail or email. With such disparate and unreliable data capture methods, ongoing insights and analysis were elusive for UTGM.

 
Challenges
  • Increase UTGM’s ability to mitigate financial risks on behalf of aid organizations with seamless access to current and historical farmer, crop, and project information
  • Improve project outcomes with ability to identify not only where grain-related financial and business aid is needed, but which community and farmers need it most
  • Reduce amount of data errors and inaccuracies due to disparate manual methods of gathering crop and training information in the field
  • Mitigate risk of poor financial investment due to lack of early-stage insights and information associated with large and long-term agricultural projects
  • Minimize operational expenses and solve for logistical constraints related to serving a large, multi-country population by implementing an online, master database cloud solution
Results
  • Used Oracle VM, Oracle Database, and Oracle Application Express to design and deploy UTGM’s Farmer Master Database System, a web-based database of master and transactional farmer information from the developing economies of Southern Africa, in just four months
  • Gained a better understanding of the Southern African grain market with a detailed view of training, farming, and financial information about thousands of farmers across Southern Africa and Mozambique, including the possibility to run reports with customized parameters such as crop type and yield per hectare
  • Used the insights delivered by the Farmer Master Database System to provide farmers with crop production advice targeted by the individual, village, or group, giving communities a greater chance of success
  • Gained the ability to deliver critical input for financial institutions about the appropriate financial products for farming communities as well as information to aid organizations so they know precisely where help is needed most and when
  • Minimized business risk to aid organizations by creating a structured system where master and transactional farmer information is easy to extract for analysis, thus allowing greater predictability of success and better decision-making
  • Resolved logistical difficulties associated with large distances between offices and projects by deploying a cloud-enabled database with local- and cross-country hosting abilities, including off-line data capture functionality and built-in data security and integrity
  • Eliminated incorrect and duplicate data entry and time spent on manual quality control with pre-populated fields and rules-based design developed in Oracle Application Express
  • Delivered targeted training to farmers, capturing not only who the trainer was and what type of training was provided, but also identifying which farmers attended, the kind of products they produce, and how successful they were
  • Built a scalable solution that can accommodate as many farmers as necessary, storing any additional information as needed, and designed future phases of the system to build onto the existing core data so that an extensive agricultural database for Africa by country and as a whole exists—projecting 200,000 distinct farmer records within 2 years of system inception
  • Achieved considerable operational cost savings and efficiencies by working with Oracle Advanced Customer Support to increase infrastructure stability and transfer knowledge to in-house IT integration center of excellence
  • Enhanced operational efficiencies with an easy-to-implement and easy-to-use information-capturing system to enable better, more informed decision making regarding grain-related development projects across Southern Africa and Mozambique
  • Converted data into information to enable intelligent business decisions, ensuring every investment made in Africa—including Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries—yields positive return on investment

 

We started scoping the product only about six months ago and we’ve made great progress. We already have a huge number of farmers on the database and can already start to evaluate these communities in terms of where additional skills are required, and where we should focus our time and investment.

— Dr Andre van der Vyver, Founder, UT Grain Management (Pty) Ltd

About UT Grain Management (Pty) Ltd

Headquarters

 
Groenkloof, South Africa

Employees

 
20

Annual Revenue

 
Under US$100 million

Founded in 1999 by Dr. André van der Vyver, UT Grain Management (Pty) Ltd executes development projects in Southern Africa with a focus on increasing international competitiveness, intra-regional trade, and food security.

Partners

UTGM commissioned Oracle Partner APPSolve to design and develop the Farmer Master Database. Tasked with creating a system that was easy-to-use, flexible, and scalable, APPSolve leveraged Oracle technology to build a web-based system with local and cross-country hosting abilities. The system incorporates off-line data capture functionality to allow for varying bandwidth issues in the African market and features built-in data security and integrity functions. The successful project received the 2016 Oracle Sustainability Innovation Award.

Published:  Jan 24, 2017