EU helps farmers' co-operative go hi-tech
Cornwall’s biggest farmers’ co-operative is planning to put its elderly computer systems out to grass and get hi-tech with the help of Objective One.
Cornwall Farmers Ltd is a farmer-owned agricultural supply co-operative that was founded in 1921. At present the company has around 3,000 members and an annual turnover of £40 million, with trading surpluses returned to members as bonuses and interest payments on capital investments.
But the company’s network of nine retail stores currently operates on a mixture of out-dated computer systems that are unable to ‘talk’ to each other.
Now, Cornwall Farmers plans to move into the 21st century with the aid of a £772,000 investment in new systems that can link the company with suppliers, provide on-line facilities for customers and give its sales reps the ability to access sales information from – sometimes literally – the field.
More than £463,000 of the investment will come from the company itself, while grants of nearly £154,500 each will come from the European Agricultural Guidance & Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) and the Department of the Environment, Food & Regional Affairs (DEFRA).
Peter Hardaker from Cornwall Farmers explained: “We are currently trying to work with a mixture of systems for different areas of our business. Because the computers can’t communicate with each other, this results in considerable duplication of effort.
“Moving to a single, modern system will let the company use new technology to its fullest advantage. We will also be encouraging farm businesses to make use of the new facilities and the project will have environmental benefits by allowing us to improve logistics and delivery patterns, reduce paper usage and implement a policy of recycling.”
Cornwall Farmers estimate that increased efficiency provided by the investment in the new computer system will lead to an increase in the net income of its farmer members businesses. The project also fits in with the Objective One programme’s theme of increasing the provision and use of information communications technology.
European Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)
EAGGF is one of the four funds that make up the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is making £314 million available to support the local economy between 2000 and 2006.
EAGGF aims to:
Help preserve the link between diversified farming and the land.
Improve and support the competitiveness of agriculture as a key activity in rural areas.
Ensure the diversification of the economy in rural areas.
Help to keep thriving communities in rural areas.
Preserve and improve the environment, the landscape and the rural heritage.
Contact: Peter Hardaker
Cornwall Farmers Limited
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD