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New app helps dairy co-op realise profits

Saturday April 27 2019

Kithirune Dairy Co-operative Society chairman, Justus Mutuma (centre) and a farmer and an employee of the sacco, weigh milk at the establishment.

Kithirune Dairy Co-operative Society chairman, Justus Mutuma (centre) together with a farmer and an employee of the sacco weigh milk delivered at the establishment. The organisation deals with more than 800 farmers, has 12 staff and receives 6,000 litres of milk daily. PHOTO | CAROLINE WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CAROLINE WAMBUI
By CAROLINE WAMBUI
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It is seven in the morning and Julius Maingi is walking majestically to Kithirune Dairy Co-operative Society, a milk can in one hand.

A clerk is waiting for him. His personal details and quantity of milk are captured on a bluetooth-enabled smartphone. Maingi is then handed a receipt from a held portable thermal printer.

“What encourages us to deliver our milk to the co-operative every morning and evening is that not a drop gets lost,” Maingi says.
“Even the smallest detail is accounted for and this enhances transparency and accuracy.”

Transformation is evident in all the operations at the co-op society. The organisation deals with more than 800 farmers, has 12 staff and receives 6,000 litres of milk daily. The manual labour the co-operative applied in the past almost crippled it.
Today, all information on managing the co-op is controlled from one point. This helps in monitoring field officers, milk collection routes and collection points and other vital information, thanks to Accu Systems Ltd, the company that installed the app.

“It was difficult to monitor the operations of the co-operative before the technology came,” Kithirune Dairy Co-operative Society chairman Justus Mutuma told Seeds of Gold.

“We experienced other problems like inadequate and substandard feeds, transport, accountability, poor oversight, carelessness and larceny.”

From the field, the mobile and Web-based software enables collection clerks capture data easily and efficiently.

The information captured includes the farmer’s details, quantity and quality of milk collected and lactometer readings.

Milk collection routes and points are also captured and the data automatically logged into the system.

The farmer is then given the printed receipt. At the end of the day, every farmer or member who delivered milk to the co-op gets a confirmation text message.

AUTOMATICALLY SYNCHRONISES

“Before this technology arrived, some members and co-op staff determined the milk quantity by merely looking. There was no weighing. That meant some farmers felt cheated. Today, no drop gets lost,” Joseph Murangiri, a farmer, says.

Faith Kinya, a secretary at the co-op society, says the app captures the actual weight of the milk by deducting the tare weight from the total quantity, thereby providing accuracy of up to two decimal places on the digital scale.

This ensures the farmers and society members get paid what is due to them. There are no hidden charges.

Accu Systems Ltd chief technical officer Jeremy Omolo says for quality, the clerks carry out initial tests to determine if a farmer’s milk has been adulterated.

“Tests like peroxide, milk adulteration, antibiotic residues, adulteration (water addition) and total plate count are logged into the system for the processing of payments,” Mr Omollo told Seeds of Gold.

The field test results are then logged onto the mobile app that automatically synchronises information to a cloud server.

Digital scale

The absence of internet connectivity does not hinder the application from operating as data is logged on the mobile phone local storage and later synched to the core DCERP server hosted either locally on LAN or on cloud.

“The system thus enhances efficiency by saving the co-operative clerks the cumbersome tasks they engaged in. Some could remain awake for most nights keying in their field data,” Mutuma says.

He adds that the highest accuracy is ensured by harnessing Bluetooth technology on the information collected. The separation of morning and evening milk deliveries is also captured for efficiency.

CLEARS RISKS OF MAKING MISTAKES

The quantity of milk collected or sold locally by a clerk is captured by the press of a button. This automatically captures the values displayed on the Bluetooth enabled scale. With this, the system reduces or does away altogether lots of paper work.

It also clears the risk of making mistakes while one is in the field. The era of writing wrong figures has been consequently been done away with.

While it is not a must for milk to be processed before being sold, the clerks in the field use the app to sell the milk to individuals, schools, hospitals and other institutions, with the balance being forwarded to the co-operative society for processing.

Gideon Muiru, a senior software engineer, says the system offers a convenient, easy, friendly, accurate and comprehensive solution for conducting the day-to-day operations of a dairy co-operative society. There are other modules that the co-operative relies on during the collection, sale and dispatch of the milk.

The modules include member management, sales and dispatch, stores and agrovet sales management, extension, communication, staff and members payroll management, finance and accounting and extension services, including artificial insemination and drug sales.

Mutuma urges other co-operative societies to embrace the technology. “One cannot use yesterday’s methods in today’s world and expect to be in business tomorrow,” he concludes philosophically.