Food security for the 475 million smallholder farmers around the world
Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40% of today’s global population. There are about 475 million farms less than 2ha in size. These smallholder farms operate on 12% of the world’s agricultural land and produce 80% of the food that is consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, parts of the world where food security and stable income are still inadequate (Bayer, 2018).
In addition to unpredictable weather conditions that greatly affect crop quality and often wipe out entire fields, farmers rely on traditional farming practices which although effective, are often not the most efficient. They have limited resources to ensure soil health (such as pH) which if managed properly can have a drastic impact on the produce quality. Finally, farmers suffer from a lack of available and easy to interpret information about pest and disease management for their crops. Several farmers have informed PEV throughout the interview process that historically they have used Mortein as a pest management technique which has great implications for the health of their families and other potential consumers of the produce.
Lack of market co-ordination and limited agricultural knowledge can result in an oversupply of certain crops in a developing country which increases vulnerability to disease, loss and environmental disaster.
Significant loss of crops and incorrect use of pesticides has downstream effects on not only the immediate economy but the state of life on land and life in the sea. Soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and chemical outflow into the sea can be linked to poor agricultural practices.
Agriculture as an industry employs 40% of the global population. Most of them are subsistence farmers earning less than USD$5 per day. Enabling productivity gains has a direct impact on their income.
HOW IT WORKS
FarmEd seeks to provide a ~ 20%+ uplift in agricultural output to prospective beneficiaries through the provision of timely expertise that is relevant and tailored. This is the direct social impact to farmers which has many flow on impacts for the farmers family and broader community. These impacts include consistency in income, food security and subsequent financial stability. In the longer-term this impacts the community with more produce range and improved supply chain.
The MVP app is to have the following features:
- Pest and disease recognition and non chemical pesticide advice
- Crop information – including varieties, seasonal guidance and ideal pH levels (as well as NPK information)
- Calendar – to assist farmers in planning their crops to align with seasons
- Weather information
The first version of the FarmEd app will be launching for July and will focus solely on pest and disease recognition and pH levels. It will be very simple but farmers have mentioned this is a critical area of interest for them so we believe it’s the best place to start to validate the business model.
The business model
FarmEd will be sold on a monthly subscription basis, at an affordable price, depending on the market. Initial testing suggests an average monthly subscription of $1 per month (discounted for longer subscriptions). FarmEd has established interest among customers and has tested both pricing and the value proposition.
We have a strategy of attracting customers through a mix of corporate relationships with organisations who can provide us access to thousands of farmers and a network-based distribution model that Project Everest is developing in selected countries. Organisations that we are pursuing relationships with include:
1. Government bodies
2. Agricultural Co-ops
3. Fertiliser companies (or other providers of products to subsistence farmers)
4. NGO’s who work in agriculture
Many of these organisations have ‘agents’ who deal directly with farmers. They already have relationships and rapport and are often giving some form of agricultural advice. For these agents to be able to go out and either sell the app to the farmers or use it as a farm management tool to provide the farmers with smarter insights that will ultimately benefit both the farmers and the company, is greatly appealing.
The value proposition for farmers is both improved yield as a result of better growing techniques and identification and treatment of pests and disease as well as increased product value based on product selection and the ability to extract higher prices.
When fully built, the application will be easy to implement, support multiple languages and be tailored for the region their farm operates in. The system will provide farmers with useful knowledge on how they can optimise their crops to increase yields as well as manage pests and diseases with non chemical solutions.
KEy Value Proposition
Improve food security for communities ensuring they have access to a range of food throughout the year to feed their families.
Stable income that can cover periods of the year where crops are destroyed due to flooding and ensure farmers can provide for their families and send their children to school
Diversify crop production and improve crop quality which will allow farmers to have greater opportunities to sell more at the markets
WANT TO INTERN ON THIS PROJECT?
Timor-Lesté & Fiji