Implementing a Remote Sensor Network and Automation of the Business Processes for the Food Reserve Agency In Zambia

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Chibuye, Mulima
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The University of Zambia
Zambia‟s Food Reserve Agency was established by the Food Reserve Act of 1995. This act has since been updated in 2005 in order to incorporate the agency as a parastatal with the mandate to establish a national strategic food reserve. The agency is tasked with ensuring food security by being a market facilitator, encouraging efficient agricultural production and marketing systems while also providing a ready market for small scale farmers. The current operations and management of the warehousing systems and general activities is manual and this presents several issues that can be addressed using information and communications technologies. Primary among the problems faced by the Food Reserve Agency is spoilage of grain due to unmonitored environmental conditions and theft of grain due to poor controls. In this study, using a mixed methods research strategy, qualitative and quantitative analysis, the automation of activities related to the Food Reserve Agency is proposed in an effort to make the programme more efficient and eliminate unnecessary and costly manual methods. It is shown that the introduction of technology and the use of modern warehousing in grain marketing leads to efficiencies and is also part of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals on agriculture. As this work primarily focused on the use of wireless sensor networks in grain marketing, related technology that can be used for remote management and monitoring of storage warehouses at which stock is kept is proposed. The Internet of Things is used as the basis for the platform of the remote sensor network and the entire implementation relies on cloud computing, the processing of big data and a very recent operating system called Android Things is used for the remote devices. Further efficiencies such as the possible use of Zambia‟s National Data Centre and Blockchain technology are considered for future work. In the results, a developed database for the agency is presented and this is extracted from the business rules and documents obtained in the baseline study. Further, a remote sensor network prototype is developed in order to address some of the challenges faced by the agency. A detailed discussion of the results is presented and a conclusion and recommendation section looks at the future and aligns the importance of this work to the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals.
Sensor network--Warehousing system