Government agencies, aid agencies and investors in agricultural development often face difficulties putting business plans into practice, even when launched in good faith and with sound assumptions and achievable goals.
The cause of failure in such cases is often due to the business model lacking ‘boots-on-the-ground’ support. Working as we do across borders and from boardroom to field, Agri-Africa is able to provide those essential ‘boots’: we bring to the action the considerable cumulative experiences of our members and associates.
Our management packages are tailored to suit client requirements. This requires, prior to entering into a service arrangement, that we examine the resources and the operational context of the assignment in a project-vision setting. We then design, with client, a management protocol that is both appropriate and aligned to the complexity and size of the project. Our package includes an undertaking to report regularly on progress.
Importantly, we do this in accordance with Agri-Africa’s underlying principles: remain sensitive to the socio-political dynamic of each project, and adhere, in the broadest sense, to the accepted principles of sustainability.
‘Quality is a pre-condition for sustaining a satisfied customer base’ … a truism in our consumer-led, demanding times.
As food is sourced from more diverse places, and supermarkets have to supply ever-greater amounts to the end customer, the emphasis on food safety, traceability and good agricultural practice has taken centre stage as a marketing tool.
Within the ranks of Agri-Africa’s associate network is the competence to design, implement and manage the necessary systems to comply with quality standards. Some of the better-known systems that we can insert into an operation are:
- ISO9001:2000 – Quality Management Systems.
- HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).
- Tesco’s Nature’s Choice and Marks & Spencer Field to Fork.
Recognition as an assured quality producer or exporter has important implications. Trivial errors can lead to crises and stakes can be high. Beyond monitoring the production sequence at ‘critical control points’, management needs to appreciate the impact of key operating decisions on product quality, affecting:
- Pre-harvest irrigation.
- Post-harvest handling.
- Timing of harvest.
- Cooling protocols.
- Cold chain management.
Management accounting, interpretation and control
Good decisions require good judgement and good information: information that is not only revealing and accurate, but also focussed on the critical activities that contribute to performance. Such data is often obscured in conventional accounting systems.
Standard dual-entry accounting systems produce balance sheets and income statements that are limited in their usefulness. The information exists in broad categories without a meaningful description of the variables of which they are composed. Where key performance management is required this kind of summated information is insufficient.
To illustrate: The income from an apple farm is a function of several factors: area planted, yield achieved, varietal, fruit size, fruit colour, packaging, handling protocols, logistics and market choices. These output variables contribute individually to gross income, as do input variables to total cost. All affect profit in different ways and with different levels of sensitivity. Knowing how, and by how much, is crucial to our understanding of achievable outcomes. A purpose-made accounting/record-keeping system gives us this indispensable knowledge.
For clients who appreciate the value of ‘right’ information, we offer a needs-based record-keeping/accounting system; decisions will be better informed and operations more efficiently managed.