New Paperless Based Processes at CSGA
The Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA) has certified the world’s largest acreage of seed crops since 1904. Annually, CSGA processes between 16,000 to 18,000 fields a year to certify crops of 2,000 different varieties of more than 50 different species grown on more than 1.2 million acres (.5 million HA). Inspecting these crops at the correct stage of maturity each summer has traditionally involved 200 inspectors from 40 different offices of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) over a three thousand mile (5,000 km) territory from British Columbia in the west to Nova Scotia in the east.
Recent budget cuts by the Government of Canada meant that CSGA had only 18 months to re-build a 109-year-old seed crop certification process to replace federal government inspectors with third party inspectors from the private sector. To effectively manage this major change, CSGA will be abandoning paper based workflows and adopting paperless businesses processes.
Past Paper-Based Process
The traditional paper based seed certification process involved the following steps:
- The CSGA office produced pre-printed application forms which were mailed out to 3,500 seed growers, ranging from family farms to university plant breeders to multi-national biotechnology companies
- Seed growers completed these application forms and mailed them back to CSGA.
- CSGA appraisers then reviewed the crop inspection applications for incorrect or missing information.
- CSGA summer staff then entered data from the paper application forms directly into a database to printout personalized, triplicate copy, crop inspection report forms.
- These crop inspection reports were then mailed across Canada to approximately 200 seed crop inspectors.
- After their inspections, seed crop inspectors would complete the paper inspection report, give a copy to the grower and mail a copy back to the CSGA office.
- When seed crop inspection reports arrived back at the CSGA, they were manually sorted by language (French & English), then by crop kind (approx. 50per year) and then by variety (approx. 2,000 per year)
- After sorting, the crop inspection reports were manually reviewed and appraised by CSGA appraisers for compliance with certification standards. The certification decision was then entered by CSGA summer staff into the database, which allowed crop certificates to be issued.
This slow, postage and paper-based process had many negative impacts on the whole seed crop certification system, especially for seed growers. On average, it would take 15 days for a completed inspection report to arrive at CSGA after completion of a crop inspection. With crops harvested soon after inspection, there was an ongoing risk that growers would not be aware of required corrective actions prior to harvest. This could prevent CSGA from certifying the seed crop and cost the grower thousands of dollars in the reduced value of the non-certified seed that is harvested
Paperless Based Process
Here is an inside look at two key business processes to go paperless in 2013; the application for seed crop certification and seed crop inspection reporting. In 2014, these workflows will be rolled out to the whole seed certification system.
Application for Seed Crop Certification
Seed Growers can submit applications for seed crop certification online or by hardcopy.
Once an online application is submitted by a grower, it gets automatically routed to a CSGA appraiser. The CSGA appraiser reviews the application electronically and processes the application accordingly. This process is approximately 10x faster than the traditional hardcopy process.
Hardcopy applications are processed in a similar manner. Upon receipt at CSGA, they are appraised by a CSGA appraiser and then scanned into CSGA’s document management system. The application is then routed to CSGA’s summer staff for data entry.
Once the applications are appraised and processed by CSGA staff, they are sent electronically to the Authorized Seed Crop inspection Service (ASCIS) indicated on the application through CSGA’s Web Access Portal. The ASCIS’s lead inspector has two (2) days to either accept or reject the application for seed crop inspection. Following this, the lead inspector must assign an inspector to the field and an estimated date of inspection. All of this is done through drop down menus and the grower is notified by email or fax of the updates.
Inspection staff can also access all of the required documentation for inspection through CSGA’s iPad application. This allows inspectors to take the information with them into the field.
Seed Crop Inspection Reporting
To streamline the incoming 16,000-18,000 crop inspection reports, CSGA has created a standardized seed crop inspection reporting tool that will be used by all ASCIS. This tool is available on the inspector’s iPad or computer.
Before inspection, the inspector calls up the data for the inspection. This is done by entering the Grower Number and the unique CSGA Sequence Number for the each field. This process pulls the key tombstone data (grower, parent seed source and previous land use information). By accessing the crop inspection reports through the iPad, CSGA will eliminate the printing, manual processing and mailing of crop inspection reports to the approximately 30 ASCIS operating in 2014.
The inspector completes the crop inspection report by typing or selecting drop down menus. E-Forms will be optimized for each crop kind. Once the inspector completed the crop inspection report, it is sent to the ASCIS lead inspector for approval through CSGA Web Access.
Once the report is accepted by the ASCIS lead inspector, a copy of the crop inspection report is emailed or faxed to the grower instantaneously. If the grower does not have an email or fax, a copy of the inspection report is mailed to them. Alternatively, the inspector has the ability to print a copy of the crop inspection report from the iPad.
To save time and resources, CSGA will rely on electronic business processes going forward. Members should assure that CSGA has their email address or fax number to receive copies of crop inspection reports and instant notifications on the inspection of their crops.