On Monday 27 November 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa, information and communications technology company, BCX, and digital industrial company, GE, announced a partnership aimed at providing end-to-end digital technological solutions to the agri-processing sector in South Africa.
Collaborative partners BCX and GE have developed an integrated agri-tech solution tailored for South African and African agricultural needs. Leveraging Predix, GE’s application development platform for the Industrial Internet, the team co-created the Digital Farm solution. Predix was purpose-built to meet the scale, complexity, speed and security requirements of industry.
The Digital Farm, created by BCX and GE, allows stakeholders to manage, predict, and control inputs and outputs across the agricultural supply chain – from farm to table. The solution will incorporate components, or software applications (apps), that will allow visibility for varied types of user information and benefits per stakeholder sector – farmer, financial intermediaries, government, retailer, logistics partner, and ultimately, consumer.
Agriculture currently represents approximately 2.6% of South African GDP, and contributes to around 10% of formal employment in the country. According to Statistics South Africa, agriculture has been one of the sectors to contribute most to GDP growth, showing a 33.6% growth in the second quarter of 2017.
“Agriculture plays such a vital role in the South African economy,” noted Ian Russell, CEO of BCX. “With the advances in digital industrial technology, we recognised that there were significant opportunities to leverage that technology to increase efficiencies, profits, and ultimately the broader economy.”
Ali Saleh, SVP and Chief Commercial Officer for GE Digital Middle East, Africa & Turkey, said of the collaboration, “We are delighted to work with BCX as our partners in the region in developing solutions that are integral to the success and survival of all our continent’s citizens.” He added, “GE, the 125-year-old industrial organisation has transformed itself into the world’s digital industrial company by developing integrated solutions across sectors such as oil and gas, power, healthcare, transportation and aviation. One of our key capabilities is leveraging solutions from one sector or industry and applying them to another – what we call the GE Store. We now look forward to applying this significant legacy as we enter a key sector with the goal of increasing efficiency.”
Russell noted, “The partnership shows the potential that digital disruption can have to transform an industry and further, an economy. Beyond increasing output and efficiency for farmers, the solutions should have a trickle-down effect for South African consumers as well.”
The solutions will be rolled out over the course of next year and will focus primarily on small to mid-sized farmers.