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AFGRI leverages technology to help local farmers build a sustainable future

Pierre Durand, head of IT and innovation at agricultural services company AFGRI Agri Services, in recent conversation with Ahmed Mahomed, CEO, Datacentrix, explained that when it comes to technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, they are only as good as the connected infrastructure that underpins them

There’s a misconception that the agriculture industry is behind the curve when it comes to technology adoption. In fact, the opposite is true, although unfortunately often at the expense of the individual farmer.

Jacob de Villiers, financial executive at AFGRI Group Holdings, said, “Modernisation is probably the conversation we have the most frequently with our customer base. Technology in the form of agricultural equipment has come on in leaps and bounds, and is the leading driver of crop production.

“Our farmers’ ability to innovate and use technology is often underestimated, and so, as a 98-year-old organisation, AFGRI is continuously striving to be at the cutting edge of innovation to help our clients ensure sustainable business into the future.”

AFGRI has taken on the role of integrator, assisting the local agri sector to find these critical technologies and pull them together in a meaningful way while leveraging economies of scale, Durand explained

As such, the organisation has made significant investments to extend its support to the industry.  There are many examples, such as the revamping of AFGRI’s siloes for faster offload speeds, as well as the updating of its stock monitoring systems, ensuring that there is a constant view of stock and its movements through the siloes. Then, there are also the softer issues, such as the company’s online platform, which allows easier transacting for its farmers.

“Our smaller farmers need practical solutions, and another example of how AFGRI has stepped in to help unlock this value is with the introduction of Axl in 2020. Axl is AFGRI’s online platform designed for the convenient rental of farm equipment, facilitating the contract between the renter and the owner in a few simple steps online. Every farmer is sitting with under-utilised equipment that stands idle between seasons,” Durand stated. 

Technology to deliver agri business results

AFGRI’s investment in innovation extends to executing on its digital transformation strategy. Last year, the organisation kick-started a three-year project with Datacentrix, which encompasses the rollout of a software-defined networking solution, cloud-delivered security, endpoint visibility with the software-defined WAN rollout, monitoring, connectivity delivery through Datacentrix company, eNetworks, an ISP and network specialist, and more.

Ahmed Mahomed, CEO at Datacentrix, commented, “AFGRI is leveraging Datacentrix’ holistic Hybrid IT value proposition, optimising workloads by migrating to Datacentrix cloud services to boost performance and improve cost management. The most important reason behind this, is the positive impact it will have on AFGRI’s ability to continue delivering value to local farmers.

“Farming is core to any country when it comes to sustainability, and modernisation is critical to safeguarding this asset. Technology plays a massive role in ensuring that you get the best yield from a piece of land and achieving the planned outcome. Looking at it from this perspective, as a technology partner, Datacentrix’ approach is to partner with its clients to solve business challenges by leveraging technology to deliver real business value.” 

AFGRI takes its role in delivering the best services at the best cost to our customers very seriously, with the aim of profitable, sustainable farming. Through our partnerships with companies like Datacentrix, we will continue to help our farmer base to solve their problems, providing a solid foundation to really deliver sustainable value,” De Villiers concluded.