Kenya tea factories go ICT

August 20, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has introduced an electronic weighing solution to replace the current manual scales.

KTDA’s Finance and Strategy Director, Benson Ngari, said the solution will assure accuracy, save on time and human resources by having data captured once at source. It also makes automated reconciliation between factory weights and buying centre weights.

“The solution allows for data retrieval and provides reliable backup thereby assuring integrity of green leaf information,” said Mr Ngari.

“(It) is currently fully operational in Nyankoba in Kisii and Gathuthi in Nyeri. The two were the initial pilot sites for the project. Implementation is currently going on in several other factories with appreciable degrees of success.”

The technology consists of a weigh scale, a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), a portable printer and server software.

The units have rechargeable batteries and can operate for at least 24 hours on continuous weighing without power supply. Farmers therefore don’t have to worry about the effects of the current power rationing on their day-to-day tea deliveries. In addition the PDA has sufficient memory to store data for at least one year.

Mr Ngari emphasised that the new technology was not a weighing scale but a solution, noting that besides being an automatic data capture unit, it will enable factory management handle grower issues at buying centre level including registration, loans management, payments and fertilizer queries, among others.

“The technology is designed to ensure that only valid growers can deliver green leaf at all buying centers. Growers’ information is stored on the PDA and is loaded every morning to ensure that newly registered or transferred growers are included,” Mr Ngari clarified.

“Upon delivery of green leaf, the PDA automatically captures the weight into its memory and sends to the printer. At the end of the day the weights are downloaded automatically from the PDA or storage media to the server at the factory without manual intervention,” he went on to explain.

“This is part of the ongoing reforms within the agency designed to cut production costs and improve the earnings of small scale farmers countrywide,” articulated Mr Ngari.

“Continuous Fermentation Units (CFUs), another revolutionary addition to the KTDA reforms plate, have been installed in virtually all factories across the country,” he conluded.

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