For several years now, Hank Giclas, Western Growers senior vice president of science, technology and strategic planning, has had a vision for a web-based platform that could help growers accumulate, store and regurgitate the data they need to provide to both government officials and the buyer community about the products they grow and ship.
That vision is rapidly becoming reality. Giclas and his colleagues, both in and out of the WG headquarters, are ready to beta test the so-named Western Growers Toolbox, that will give growers resources at their fingertips to comply with buyer and government mandates, as well as tools to assess their operations in several different areas.
As food safety compliance has become more burdensome and as the government need for tracking compliance becomes more mandatory, Giclas said technology has also advanced but no one has aggregated all that information into one area.
He and his team made the WG Toolbox presentation to the Science & Technology Committee of the Western Growers Board of Directors in mid-March and received approval to move the WG-funded effort forward.
“Essentially we are building a site that will be accessible to members so that they can deal with the many technical issues that they face every day,” he said. “This site will contain a ‘toolbox’ of applications that can be customized by each member to fit their specific needs and to both provide and manage data and information that will help them with their goals.”
The WG vice president said the goal is to continue to add applications to this toolbox as the need arises but initially they are developing applications to help growers in the area of risk assessment, water and nutrient management, regulatory compliance and environmental stewardship.
Giclas and Diane Wetherington, executive vice president of Intertox, WG’s third party contractor on this project, ran through the presentation for the WG Committee members giving them a sneak preview of how the toolbox will work.
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