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Vodafone puts improved productivity into the hands of kiwi farmers

Posted on 8-Jun-2015 20:56 | Filed under: News

Vodafone is accelerating its support of agribusiness in New Zealand, harnessing partnerships with leading kiwi-based innovators to help farmers navigate increasing pressures on profitability and productivity in the sector.

As the first package under its new Vodafone Rural Connect brand, the company has announced a first-of-its-kind bundle designed specifically for farmers. This farming solution brings together rugged devices, online farming financial management from Figured and Xero, farm vehicle and safety technology from Blackhawk Tracking Systems, and Vodafone’s security software – all delivered over Vodafone’s rural network.

“New Zealand’s agribusiness sector contributes $14 billion to the country’s GDP, whilst at the same time kiwi farmers are dealing with some of the most volatile conditions any business can face,” says Vodafone Chief Executive, Russell Stanners.

“We want to help our key industries continue to perform at their full potential and the spot light is on agribusiness to support our Government’s goal to double the value of primary exports by 2025. Farmers are looking to us for ways to work more efficiently and productively than ever before,” he says.

Vodafone’s Rural Connect will deliver services and products that recognise the sophistication of this country’s agribusiness sector as well as supporting the needs of the wider rural community. This bundle brings together a unique suite of services designed specifically to meet the needs of rural New Zealanders. It is supported by the company’s ongoing commitment to the Rural Broadband Initiative and to providing Kiwis with New Zealand’s leading mobile network.

Vodafone Rural Connect forms part of a wider Vodafone Group initiative to support farmers globally. A number of countries already operate the Vodafone Farmers’ Club and the company announced in May it was to extend the brand to India, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, with a more specific offering to be designed for New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s agriculture industry is one of the most advanced in the world and farmers are among the highest adopters of smartphones in New Zealand. Connectivity is underpinning the transformation of our agri-industry and this new solution is an exciting next step in ensuring our farms, agribusinesses and communities remain reliably connected with the right devices, plan and access to technology and innovation that can make a real difference,” said Stanners.

Vodafone’s new bundle will launch at Fieldays on 10 June and provides farmers with:
  • Access to Vodafone’s Rural network on a Red+ Business plan
  • A ruggedised smart phone and tablet
  • Three month’s free access to Figured in conjunction with Xero accounting software, and Farm Angel (Powered by Blackhawk Link) technology
  • Device security via Vodafone Secure Device Manager, included in every Red + Business plan

Vodafone has worked closely with Figured to integrate its online financial management into the bundle so that farmers can be enabled by more informed decision making.

Figured’s General Manager Product and Customer, Dave Dodds, said for farmers to grow profit in an environment of fluctuating commodity prices, variable seasonal conditions and rising costs, they need good plans and immediate financial feedback.

“Figured is helping to improve the business of farming in this country by allowing farmers to efficiently collaborate with accountants, farm advisers, and banks using a single online system, so that they can make more informed decisions in regards to managing cash flows and improving bottom line performance,” said Dodds.

Farm Angel (Powered by Blackhawk Link) uses Machine to Machine technology to take farm safety and management to a new level. A Farm Angel-enabled quad bike knows when it has been in an accident and will send out a panic alert on behalf of the rider. It can also be remotely disabled if stolen, and keep farmers in connectivity, even on the remotest paddock. Its system uses Bluetooth and satellite-enabled hardware connected to Vodafone’s M2M network.

Andrew Radcliffe, CEO of Blackhawk said, “Health & safety on the farm is a major issue for farmers, affecting lives and profitability. Vodafone’s machine-to-machine platform has enabled us to quickly turn our concept into a working product that’s about equipping farmers with the information they need to manage their farm more efficiently and keep workers safe.”