The World Economic Forum 2018 held in Hanoi, Vietnam pointed ASEAN countries towards a five-point strategy that will foster digital connectivity and data sharing, harmonize the business environment, build synergies among innovation incubators, manage talents and create an education network for life-long learning.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen echoed that the country should make full use of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to enhance the application of technology for socioeconomic development and poverty reduction. Our government will soon double its investment to up-skilling the country’s human capital, especially in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Amru Rice Company is prompting an early adoption of Industry 4.0 and the industry’s new take on digital tools such as the Internet of Things and big data manipulation. This year, Amru Rice Mill Battambang qualified as a niche facility equipped with high end machineries and systems for baby food safety standard. In 2018, Amru set up dryer and warehousing facilities that uses top-of-the-line machinery to make Kampong Thom province a hub for rice processing, with planned diversification into other agricultural products.
Amru is also a prime mover for the use of IT technology for traceability. In 2018, Amru partnered with Oxfam to pilot the Block-Chain technology with Agriculture Cooperatives in Preah Vihear. The project tested farmers’ use of cellphones to get information on product delivery, acceptance, payment to their Cooperatives and cashless payment to each farmer’s bank account, all linked as electronic verification of their contract with Amru and its Netherlands buyer.
Amru’s partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is also using software packages to systematically mark quality product compliance among smallholder farmers, the production processes and up to export buyers. A software, called Farm Force, is being used and improved on to help smallholders gain access to formal markets, improve the effectiveness of out grower schemes and ensure traceability in SRP rice. The company also uses the IFC Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool and is engaged with the International Trade Center in Sustainability Mapping to show a snapshot of farming sources.
There is much to be done to make traceability effective and fully accepted by business. But clearly, consumers want to know where a product comes from, what’s in it, whether it is ethically made or how safe is it. Such curiosity is a result as society becoming sustainably aware. Industry 4.0 as used for product tracking and networking is becoming accessible for enterprises. But for it be relevant, it must be used by people themselves.
Song Saran, Amru CEO, says, “Our commitment is to bring technology down so farmers can use it as a key for the sustainability of their production and their market link, for them to improve the quality and safety of what they produce for consumers. We must engage our youth to help their farmer parents, who are old and unfamiliar to new technology, to use it. The vision our company is pursuing is that farmers themselves would become agripreneurs for sustainable and climate-adaptive agriculture. This is the key dimension of good corporate social responsibility practice.”