Access to market for perishable goods is a major problem for subsistence farmers. To address this problem Farming Data is developing a software system to enable farmers to communicate with potential buyers using SMS messaging on a basic mobile phone or via mobile broadband on a smartphone.
Farming Data won the 2017 GROW agri-tech business plan competition and co-founder Jacqui Poon says the process was highly beneficial to the company.
She comments: “One of the main benefits of being involved in GROW was the advice and guidance from the business mentors.
“They took a close look at our business model and business plan and gave some useful insights. They also connected us with potentially useful contacts in the agri-tech space, and challenged some of our thinking so that we could improve the design and execution of our product.
“Within GROW there were various types of business support available for small businesses looking to grow and seeking financial opportunities.
“Since winning GROW, we have had the opportunity to develop our initial prototype at an accelerator, and have combined this development with networking opportunities with those interested in the agri-tech space.
“For example, in 2018 we went on a KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network) partnership seeking mission to Colombia, and we later won grant funding to develop our technology and test its feasibility in the field for small-scale farmers there.”
Listo provides links with buyers
By registering on the Farming Data platform via the app Listo, the producer is given a physical location in the real world, allowing potential buyers to see what is being grown in a particular area.
The buyers can then place orders using the platform and farmers have the opportunity to create virtual cooperatives to fulfil these orders, as well as to review market values for these crops to ensure a fair price. A number of farmers pooling their surplus will be a more attractive proposition and reduce complexity for buyers.
Jacqui continues: “We are one of the seven awardees of the UK-Colombia Agri-Tech Catalyst funded by the UK Prosperity Fund and Innovate UK. In total, our 16-month pilot project gained funding of nearly £400k, which is being used to develop our digital platform technology to facilitate the buying and selling of agricultural goods.
“More recently, we have kick-started our project and have been iterating our digital platform with user-centric approaches, focusing on the needs of small-scale farmers and buyers in Colombia.
“As of November 2019, we had more than 200 registered users on the platform, spread over 3 regions of Colombia – namely Risaralda, Caquetá, and Bolívar.”
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