Skilled farmers and millions of hectares of underutilized arable land are wasting away in many parts of emerging markets, while on the other hand, the demand for high-quality organic agricultural food is increasing globally. Digitally empowered, Agrictech entrepreneurs are leveraging this disconnect to build platforms that make it possible for people to invest in local farming.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation, about 90 percent of the world farms are small. Many of these smallholder farmers are poor and have limited access to markets and services. However, they produce food for a significant part of the world’s population. Today, to tackle the challenges of producing more food, creating more jobs and enhancing the natural resource base, there is a need for competitive and sustainable productive farms, and small family farmers lie at the heart of the solution – Here is were contemporary internet enabled platforms like iGrow, are positioned to create scalable and efficient farming industry. iGrow can connect farmers, landowners, investors, and crop buyers to create a complete farming supply chain.
They identify crops with stable demand, prices and growing characteristics, find arable land and its farmers, raise capital for seeds from urban sponsors and give a Farmville-like experience to these sponsors where they can see their investments and also have the fun of knowing they’re growing beautiful, nutritious food. Their platform outlines the following cycle:
- Sponsors browse available seeds on the platform. they choose the right seed in accordance with the budget and expected return convenient to them. Then the seeds get planted directly by the best farmers in the field who have co-operated with iGrow.
- With their mobile app platform, sponsors follow up on the progress of their plants, getting updates such as photos, height, and the latest comments in real time from surveyors in the field as an iGrow Plant Monitoring feature. They could also monitor plants directly in the field.
- The crops are eventually harvested and sold to partners working with iGrow, with all results and sales figures summarized in a complete report.
Digital platforms in the model of iGrow have started popping up in countries around the world (below you can see on from Nigeria). When observed critically, these platforms fill many gaps e.g. instead of bank loans, these platforms provide an alternative source of financing to smallholder farmers. It is a nascent development in agritech time will tell to what extent it impacts the commercial agricultural ecosystem.
Farmcrowdy – Farmcrowdy is Nigeria based agrictech platform that gives subscribers the opportunity to invest in agriculture by selecting the kind of farms they want to sponsor. They use the investor’s funds to secure the land, engage the farmer, plant the seeds, insure the farmers and farm produce, complete the full farming cycle, sell the harvest and then pay the sponsors a return on their investment.