Digital transformation in cooperatives for fresh produce

December 21, 2023
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

We arhearing both actively and passively throughout these last months that companies that do not digitalise will have a very difficult time surviving, in any sector.

Not because they lose productivity, but because the competition will use tools that make them more productive, which will translate into an increase in the quality of the service / product, or a decrease in costs. A process that we have seen as has accelerated to forced marches in recent months as aconsequence of COVID-19

The agri-food sector does not escape this norm, in fact, it is one of the most innovative sectors. There are those who say that the technology behind a tomato is even superior to that of an iPhone, taking into account the necessary supplies, agricultural techniques, logistics until it reaches the consumer'splate ...

Return on investment

Digitizationis a process that requires a financial investment, a process that involves increasing costs in the present, but if done properly, not only will the amount contributed be recovered, but additional benefits will also be obtained, such as consequence of increased efficiency. Sometimes, the fear of losing that investment or the aversion to change leave large companies on the road to failure, due to a lack of adaptation to these new times. I'm not saying it, our friend Darwin tells us.

But what role do cooperatives play in digitizing the sector? Are they taking a proactive position, investigating how to increase efficiency using the technologies they have at their disposal?

Digitization is an abstract concept, which I consider essential to bring it down to earth (and never better said) based on concrete measures. So the question that every cooperative should ask is:

How and where do apply digital transformation?

The first thing is to consider specific objectives, as well as a series of strategies to achieve them. It is useless to use super sofisticated irrigation sensors if we do not have a clear opinion on what we want to achieve, and how we can measure the return on investment.

The cooperative must develop a constant improvement system based on 3 key points: objectives,strategies and metric measurement.

3 key points: Objectives - Strategy - Metrics

As an example of  clear objectives, we are going to mention the goals that Diego Calderón (Deputy Director at Unica Group), shared in the seminar organized by Datagri, on digital transformation in cooperatives:

a) Increase production per square meter

b) Increase the quality of the product

c) Reduce forecast errors

Actionable,achievable and measurable objectives

Once we have actionable, achievable, and measurable goals, we must ask ourselves the following strategic questions.

1. Wha ttechnology is the most appropriate to reach our goals, and how should we use it?

2. How should we measure the results so that they justify the investment?

And from here it is where the different technological possibilities that can help farmers and the cooperative to achieve the objectives should be considered. Analyse if it worth to invest in sensors, algorithms of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, or tools that facilitate the commercialization of the product.


"Digital transformation is profitable if you previously study the goals to achive" - Diego Calderón

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