Date posted: 29/04/2021 5 min read

Payroll solution for farmers

Hamilton CA brings technological solution to agriculture.

In Brief

  • System created to simplify payroll and employment
  • Horticulture, Viticulture and Dairy industry the first focus
  • System will be showcased at the NZ Primary Sector conference on 20-21 May

The primary sector is complex, but Imran Raza CA sees this as an opportunity.

In 2015, he founded AgriSmart, a software system that was created to simplify payroll and employment for agriculture and horticulture businesses. 

Hamilton-based Imran says that for too long these businesses have had to rely on manual data entry. Despite new technology and the primary sector’s significance as an exporter, the industry was being left behind.

There was a lot of demand for it, because there was really nobody there catering to that need.
Imran Raza CA Founder, AgriSmart

In 2015, with New Zealand’s dairy farmers facing increased pressure from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and several high-profile legal cases about holiday pay, Imran spotted an opportunity to make a difference. He realised the practice management system in the accounting firm in which he was working could be a potential starting point for something much bigger.

“I said we could actually use this and create a solution for dairy farmers,” says Raza. “There was a lot of demand for it, because there was really nobody there catering to that need.”

Raza and a small team set about developing what became AgriSmart, a web-based timesheet system specifically for dairy farmers. In 2017, AgriSmart won the Fonterra Farm Source Activate 2.0 competition, which is designed to help Fonterra’s farmers lower input costs, save time and/or increase productivity.

His team then set its sights on solving one of the primary sector’s biggest challenges: payroll.

Imran Raza CA of New Zealand

Picture: Imran Raza CA

“Horticulture and viticulture are very different to a lot of businesses, with the employment and payroll requirements, leave, breaks, and how people are paid,” says Raza. “For some it might be hourly, or a piece rate with incentive bonuses or a combination of these, and then you have the contractors and seasonal workers.

“What we did was bring it all within our software, making it all-encompassing. There’s no other system that can do all of this and have it flow directly into the payroll system.”

Raza will showcase AgriSmart at the NZ Primary Sector conference on 20-21 May. “My hope is that through the conference we give people an insight into what really is involved in horticulture payroll because people only look at it as a number and often don’t realise how those numbers were derived,” he says.

While the primary sector makes up approximately 28% of exports, Raza says its tiny employment figures (about 5.5% of the national total) have meant the industry’s needs have been largely ignored, which gives AgriSmart an advantage. Raza left his accounting firm employer in 2019 to concentrate on the software company.

“We are right at the start of something that, from a technology point of view… [these systems] can reveal how much time people can save on really menial tasks,” he says. “For one of our clients, it used to take 24 hours each week to do their payroll, and now they have reduced that time to two and a half hours per week.”

AgriSmart also simplifies health and safety systems, risk management and people management. Communication logs, QR codes, contracts and employee data are all tools AgriSmart has developed to make life easier, so that when WorkSafe or MBIE visit, the data and records are readily available.

Raza is targeting other industries with complex needs and variable hours, such as construction and hospitality. He says his aim is to make things better for businesses and the people they employ by listening to their needs.

“That’s what drives me, it’s what excites me in terms of purpose,” he says. “It’s saying, we can build something which is different, and which is going to give people value, instead of just doing the same thing everybody else is doing.”

Primary Sector Conference 2021

The Primary Sector Conference 2021 is designed specifically for rural accounting practitioners working with primary sector businesses. Get equipped with the latest knowledge influencing the future of agri-business in New Zealand.

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