The Chilli Pepper Company is an agricultural and retail-based business in Africa and South Africa that is well-known for growing and suppling cayenne, habanero and jalapeno chilli peppers. As the Chilli Pepper Company looked to expand their global footprint, one of the challenges that arose was ensuring the scalability and decentralisation of their systems, applications, and infrastructure to support their growing business.
In 2017, the Chilli Pepper Company’s development partner, Pii Digital, reached out to Siatik, who specialise in Google Cloud, to help them with a digital project called “Earn As You Grow” (EAYG). The project completed its first implementation in 2020 and new features have continuously been added to the platform thereafter. EAYG is a management platform that facilitates farmers through the process of growing and harvesting crops in a way that is sustainable. The platform is used to create a centralised global viewpoint of collected data that can be traced back to farmers within Africa. The platform helps farmers onboard by capturing information about their small farms while also providing them with a guideline on the most sustainable and effective way of growing and harvesting crops throughout the year. One of the key features of the platform includes allowing field agents to capture farmer data upon visitation. The platform is designed to educate and reward farmers for performing tasks that encourage sustainable agricultural practices. Using the platform, farmers can provide proof of farming methods used and are given the opportunity to ask questions and receive advice.
Google Cloud was chosen as the provider on which to build the platform. Some of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services that are used in the EAYG platform include Cloud Firestore which is a scalable NoSQL database that is well-suited to building software applications and platforms that require responsiveness and real-time data synchronisation. Cloud Firestore enabled the Chilli Pepper Company to build a global platform irrespective of network latency. Google Maps has also been integrated with the platform to provide geolocation capabilities. Other services used in the platform include Firebase which is GCP’s application development platform, App Engine which allows for scalable backend development and Cloud Storage for reliable object storage. With global decentralisation, having an offline capability for the EAYG platform was critical to the success of the Chilli Pepper Company since their systems had to be operational in various rural areas with poor internet connectivity. EAYG has built-in offline functionality that allows for synchronisation with the Firestore database once the device used for capturing data is connected to the internet. A new feature to be implemented into the platform includes block chain methodology that allows for the client to determine where various batches of chillies are grown, harvested and ground, providing traceability and visibility into their supply chain using Google Blockchain node engine.
Google Cloud has been an essential part of The Chilli Pepper Company’s growth since it’s development and deployment. Siatik through Google Cloud helped the Chilli Pepper Company’s development partner create the best solution while providing support and insight into innovating their platform through GCP. The Chilli Pepper Company use Google services across their organisation, from the Google Workspace products to GCP. Google has helped them save implementation costs, hardware expenses and has given them the ability to work almost anywhere in the world.
After the implementation of the EAYG platform, the Chilli Pepper Company has seen the most difference in their engagement with farmers that they work with since most of their farming occurs in rural regions where there is little to no internet connectivity. With the use of Firestore and Firebase which allows them to work offline, poor internet connectivity has not been an issue and has allowed them to build a feasible product that can be used in any area.
The Chilli Pepper Company are looking to expand their crop focus and leverage Google Cloud products to help them expand their business. They would like to start looking at big data solutions, such as GCP’s BigQuery, to help them understand various aspects of their business including which crops are the most effective to grow and what yield and profits they can expect from their farming. The Chilli Pepper Company in conjunction with a published Zoologist Dr Ferrel Osborne, want to use GCP to understand how the growth of chilli peppers can be used to naturally repel elephants to prevent needless killing of both people and elephants due to crop-raiding. They would like to use the EAYG platform to understand elephant movements within their chilli pepper farms through data collection and develop the platform into an invaluable tool that can be used to protect both wildlife and people in the surrounding areas.