Lean Farm: How to Eliminate Waste & Increase Efficiency

BY KIA - 2017-08-18

Applying Lean/ Kaizen principles in farm can drastically cut waste and increase profit, while at the same time it makes these farms more environmentally and economically sustainable. 

All kinds of wastes were found in the process of farming i.e. from seed to shipping. Much of the "work" on the farm was actually waste. Few examples includes searching for tools and supplies, walking long distances due to a poor layout, "re-working" crops that had been improperly planted, over-producing due to poor communication with customers about what items they wanted and when. This gave birth to applying Lean/ Kaizen principles to farms.

How does Lean/ Kaizen work in Farming?

It looks at every part of farming business, every decision taken by people, every piece of work done by them every day, etc. The focus is on flow of material (seed to shipping) and information. Just like obstruction in other business, there are obstructions in farming process as well which directly affect the top line of the business. A detailed assessment of current work practices can give an idea about the kinds of wastes/ obstructions in the process and can help to develop an improvement roadmap which can help to reduce such waste and increase the overall efficiency.

Kaizen™ techniques are globally proven practices of improvement. They

  1. Help you in bridging gaps to your business goals
  2. Focus on customer needs of Quality, Cost & Delivery
  3. Do provide short-term returns & successes in order to keep motivation levels high
  4. Do not require much money; only require team-oriented, systematic, structured effort
  5. Are not ‘short-term’; they need ‘long-term’ culture building for sustaining the gains & ongoing improvements, so as to maintain the competitive edge

What can be improved?

o   Productivity: All major resources

  1. Land/ field/ beds – including optimization of stems per sq m; germination %
  2. Equipment
  3. Manpower – all activities in fields/ green houses; in-farm logistics; pack-house; support activities (cultural, irrigation, pest management, office)

o   Quality: Yield enhancement – from harvesting to invoicing

o   Delivery: On-time, in-full, error-free

o   Costs: Optimization of resources

  1. Inventories – of packing material; chemicals & fertilizers; maintenance spares
  2. Equipment– by minimized breakdowns; low costs of maintenance
  3. Water & energy– conservation practices

Kaizen Institute has supported several farms in Kenyan commercial farms. To find out more you can contact us here.

In case you missed it, my last post was A Continuous Improvement (CI) Initiative Roadmap

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Gemba Kaizen