Organic farming has many positive effects for humans, animals and the environment. So it is not surprising that the market for organic products is continually growing: According to the Branchenverband Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (federal association of the organic food industry, BÖLW), an average of five farmers in Germany switched to organic farming every day in 2019. Over the last five years, the organically farmed area has increased by almost 50 percent.
In order to obtain an organic label, the farms must undergo a certification process by an accredited organic inspection body. They are then checked not only on the basis of legal requirements for food and feed, but also on the basis of EU organic farming regulations. These checks are carried out once a year, and at least five percent of farms are even subject to unannounced inspections. The inspection includes, for example, the inspection of all farm buildings and land, and checks are made of livestock welfare and housing, including feed, and the separation between organic and conventional production. The inspector then documents the results in an inspection report, which, if concluded positively, also forms the basis for a fixed-term organic certification.
The more organic farms there are, the more certifications and therefore inspections must be carried out. On the one hand, this offers great growth potential for the inspection bodies, but also presents them with challenges. ABCERT, the leading inspection body in Germany, recognised early on that the extra effort cannot be managed solely by more staff. Rather, the inspection process itself had to become simpler, more reliable and more efficient for both the inspector and the farm under inspection. ABCERT approached Trivadis with its request. The aim was to replace the paper file used to date, thereby speeding up and improving the quality of the certification process.
Together, we agilely developed a customer portal and a corresponding application for the inspectors based on ABCERT's requirements. ABCERT customers, i.e. the managers of the organic farms, are now able to create and edit their operational data and enter all the information on the farmed areas required for the inspection procedure. They can also download the questionnaire for each certificate, so they know exactly what information they need to provide for the inspection.
As a certification service provider, we see ourselves as a service partner for our customers. Accuracy, speed and efficiency are therefore important to us. With the Trivadis tablet-based solution, we were able to support precisely these goals. In particular, we appreciated the open communication and partnership approach as well as the rapid implementation of our needs in the application.
Thomas Damm, Board Member, ABCERT AG
Whereas previously there was a time delay because inspection files were processed manually by several people, the app can now save a lot of time. By directly entering the inspection results digitally in the system, the inspector and customer always work with the current data. If there is no Internet available to the inspectors when they are out and about, they can also use the app offline and synchronise it with the central database later on. Once the inspection is complete, all parties involved can sign digitally on the tablet. At the push of a button, the application generates the inspection or deviation report for the manager of the organic farm, which is immediately available to them as a PDF.
Digitalization makes the organic inspection process easier, smoother and ultimately more efficient for both the inspectors and end customers of ABCERT. It also weeded out the annoying errors resulting from the manual transfer of results to the IT system, not to mention the time it saved. The great advantage for the farm managers is that the customer portal also serves as a document management system for them. This means that they can view all important information that they have stored, for example, the history of the crop rotation, at any time.
Trivadis experts undertook the development of the application, the management of the nearshore resources used, the introduction and implementation of agile development according to Scrum and the complete project management. Further improvements to automate internal processes and integrate the solution into the digital infrastructure of the federal states in Germany are already envisaged. For example, the plan is to transfer operationally relevant data provided digitally by authorities, such as hit lists, to the system via interfaces and then digitally report the verification results according to federal state. The application has also created the basis to in future compile forecasts based on data evaluations. With Trivadis at its side, ABCERT is well equipped for the further growth of organic farming.
ABCERT is the leading organic inspection body in Germany with 200 employees at six locations. More than 15,000 customers trust ABCERT certification for organic farming and other certification procedures.