A record is a systematically and carefully collected and appropriately stored information for intended use.
Although agricultural value chain actors (agro-input suppliers, agro-producers, agro-transporters, agro-processors and agro-marketers) keep records, analysis and interpretation of the resulting data for decision making has not been easy due to the storage and retrieval systems in use and the bulk nature of some data.
All that has been revolutionised by hardware and software advancements.
Previously, records were either manual on paper or in spreadsheets in computers. The latter was limited to large-scale value chain actors (VCA) due to unaffordability of the machines and technical know-how required to develop programmes to operate them.
Currently, there are applications that run on smartphones and the apps are easy to use by anybody who owns the gadgets. With over 40 million people owning mobile phones, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya, then it is time to migrate to digital record-keeping.
There are currently many apps for use by VCAs not only for management but also for record-keeping. A good example is the “retail man” programme that agro-input dealers such as agrovets use.
This software is able to easily add and manage the shop’s entire inventory; assign discount to particular customers and track the sales; and produce reports instantaneously, among other tasks.
Such programmes are available for download from the internet for free or at a small fee. Such apps can also be customised for a specific enterprise. After a download, some programmes require internet connectivity while others don’t.
Below are steps to follow when downloading a software;
Connect to the internet.
Open the “Google play store” app
Type a search word that corresponds to your enterprise of interest, say poultry, dairy cattle, maize, Irish potatoes, milk transport and milk co-operative.
A list of apps will appear and they will show which ones are free
Click on the app that appears close to what you are looking for.
The page that opens shows the programme icon, say a chicken for the “poultry” search; the programme name and the one who created it.
There will also be the “install” button. Below that, there is the list on downloads and review rating among others. Further below, is a one or two lines describing what the programme is all about but there is also a link on “read more” which allows you to know more if you want. It is important to read more as some of those apps are not for record-keeping but general management and or literature materials.
Even if you are not interested in “read more”, click on it to reveal some other information. The information is on the version of the programme, when it was last updated, the designer plus his/her contacts, among others
If what you have gone through is not good enough for your intended purpose, go back to the search page and scroll down the list and keep on trying until you get the one that will serve you well.
After finding what you want, click on the “install button”
At this stage, some programmes might require you to register, others might not. Registration is important as it improves on the security of your information.
Follow the instructions until the download is complete. Then the “uninstall” and “open buttons” will pop up.
Click on the “open” button and on the top right hand corner, there is a dotted link that leads to settings. It will assist in setting up the enterprise details.
The main page has the record sheet with the different records to be keyed in
The top left hand side has a link to the reports that will be generated based on the information you have keyed in.
Some applications will assist not only in record-keeping but also in daily enterprise management.
There are as many apps as there are enterprises and they can be tailor-made to suit one’s needs.
You can review and recommend amendments to any app.
You can transfer the app to your laptop or desktop through the common sharing devises
Unlike data stored in computers, this one is mobile and you can key in or retrieve reports from any part of your business.
Dr Mwirigi can be reached at [email protected]