OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Farmoji - Urban Markets for Fresh Farm Food

Icon-based digital kiosks for smallholder farmers to reach urban consumers in up to 5 cities for a subscription fee of 1 US$ annually.

Photo of Eric Kotonya
21 10

Written by

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Idea: 500 million smallholder farmers - who produce 80% of the world's food - are poor. 1 billion migrants into cities who live in informal neighborhoods are poor. Food is top priority for these groups. Farmoji is a food marketplace designed for this demographic. For $1 investment, the smallest smallholder farmers visible on the food supply chain. On the consumer side, consumers get a chance to save on rising urban food prices by ordering direct from the farmer, both for their consumption and to sell to city dwellers. We are talking a factor of 6 times in price convergence through direct end-points transaction - if the farmer doubles income, and the city consumer halves costs, there is still about 20% left for packaging and delivery. Farmoji's experience overview: 1, Getting the app discovered for agent recruitment through city visits, local launches and agent recruitment 2, Getting the app discovered by farmers through local radio and by urban consumers through social media 3, Involving content providers and advertisers such as agro suppliers, large consumers (schools, hotels and food processors) meteorological departments and government extension services to push social, local-relevant content.

WHO BENEFITS?

Farmoji benefits farmers in 5 ways: 1 - Higher unit prices by a factor of 2 to 6 times 2 - Increased marketplace footprint of up to 5 cities 3 - Persistent and predictable markets in cities 4 - Almost zero technology ownership cost ($1 USD per year) 5 - Extra earning income from selling rental subscription to fellow farmers Farmoji benefits urban consumers in 2 ways: 1 - Choice of food sources from maybe 10 to upwards of 1,000 2 - Lower cost of food by a factor of 2 to 6 times

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

Initial implementation is planned in 4 cities in Kenya - Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kericho.

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

I am a software developer with 18 years enterprise systems development of which 6 years are food processing factories, and two years into mobile app development.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

No. I have been working around this idea for 5 years. Here is are links to an earlier version of the idea I posted on changemakers on Jun 15, 2011: https://www.changemakers.com/economicopportunity/entries/rizikki-mobile-portal-sharing-farming-resources https://www.changemakers.com/users/eric-kotonya

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Farmoji does 3 things differently: 1, By involving local agents and paying them 80% commission, a local fund to is created to finance bridging farmers into digital inclusion. Someone needs to finance effective selling of benefits of visibility to farmers in the food supply chain to farmers deep in rural farmlands - the key benefit being breaking the cycle of subsistence, restricted markets, and low middleman prices. With 500 million farmers worldwide, agents can earn a potential income of $400m a year. In effect Farmoji is a tool to get farmers finance their way out of poverty. 2, Farmoji introduces icon-based selling. This is innovative because it breaks the language barrier in low-literacy populations, and simplifies user learning to a few minutes. It also levels the food supply playing field by removing the big brand advantage so as to let smaller players flourish. 3, Reaching new markets is not new; but connecting to up to 5 cities is a new feature introduced in Farmoji. Farmers want to reach the nearest town/city, and up to 4 others to their North, South, East and West. The larger the market footprint, the better for smallholder farmers.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

I have started implementing this idea as an individual by building a mobile app and uploading it on Windows Phone and GooglePlay stores. This has been self funded so far. I have proposed partnerships to banks with mobile money apps/ SIM cards to add Farmoji to their mobile payment menus to simplify subscription. I am now looking at partnering with farmer cooperatives, because they are trusted by farmers, they get immediate economic value and have the best reach to small rural farmers.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

The beneficiary feedback has sharpened the urban consumer market definition. There are 1 billion people living in informal neighbourhoods in cites. Most of these migrated from rural farmlands in search of education of work. These people care more about cost of food than they do about the brand of food. This is the urban market Farmoji targets. They are a perfect fit because understand food farming from their past, and need to get affordable food for themselves and to retail to those around them.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

2, The process of downloading an app is still foreign to many unsophisticated mobile users. 2, Physical farm produce collection points are still necessary, as strangers meeting on the #FARMOJI app cannot transact without first inspecting the farm produce.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

The problem of breaking the poverty cycle for farmers who are too far way from the market, and produce too little to transport to the market has not been solved yet. Entrepreneurial models for marketing these farmers have high costs and low economic benefits to both investors and the farmers. Reaching out to them with a viable, long term solution that makes economic sense and does not come with a burdensome cost of ownership is the path to the solution. Just like mobile phone manufacturers and mobile operators have local agents who have sold the benefits of digital inclusion to these farmers, a similar locally managed model agency would work for market reach and supply chain visibility.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

The ultimate goal is poverty and hunger reduction, both in cities and rural farmlands. And with urban vertical farming gaining on the promise of less farming land space and less water utilization, Farmoji's city-focused marketplace is positioned to provide e-kiosks to these urban farmers.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • Less than 6 months

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within in 500 km of where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • We didn't have an operating budget

Cities are populations are growing fast. This puts pressure on cost and availability of food in cities. But two or three hours’ drive away from the city – in peri-urban and rural areas - little is changing in the lifestyle, and incomes of farmers. In fact, two-thirds of the world’s poorest are farmers. This is partly as a result of low investment in farming communities and partly due to subsistence mindsets.

Farmoji seeks to fix this dual cost and poverty problem using a mobile app that connects growers to city consumers.

Farmoji is a marketplace for farm food purchased directly from farmers. On Farmoji, farmers get a digital showroom on their mobile phones to display farm produce to consumers in cities. Each farmer personalizes their kiosk from a catalog of 64 commodities. Farmers and traders selling on Farmoji pay a low subscription of 1 US dollar a year.

Farmoji is a mobile commerce app – with a twist. Instead of farmers publishing their locations, they set their profiles to connect with cities where they wish to sell. Visibility to urban consumers means expanded markets, higher unit earnings and predictable market volumes for growers.

Farmoji farmers are not only visible to urban consumers, but also visible to each other. This network empowers farmers to collaborate and simulate efficiency of scaled-up production and supplies – it creates new collective big players through pooling of produce and equipment and knowledge and revenues necessary to fulfill large orders.

The timing of the Farmoji concept is right. The synergy brought by over 115 mobile money operators in Africa and GSM internet connectivity in rural areas, plus Android smartphone price-drop into the 20 US dollar price range makes fertile grounds for Farmoji to sprout.

Non-farmer entrepreneurs in cities will benefit by selling subscriptions. This supporting business is similar to that of pre-pay mobile airtime. The model is that of agents buying subscription tokens in batches of $10 and reselling to farmers for a profit of 80% to 90%.  The remaining 10% to 20% revenue is sufficient to sustain the farmoji app operations.

Farmoji positions as a for-good service with a mission to level the food supply playing field.  By de-emphasizing commodity branding and charging a flat annual subscription of $1 aims to make urban markets accessible to all. The desired impact of Farmoji is two-pronged: to equip over 100 million subsistence farmers and create new subscription-selling jobs and micro-investments channels for city entrepreneurs.

Farmoji concept app is in the Google Play and Windows Phone stores. This version is a basic catalog of 64 common farm products and 2,400 test cities.

View more

Team (2)

Eric's profile
Maurizio's profile
Maurizio Bricola

Role added on team:

"Can you join the Farmoji team? Your possible roles would be in designing physical last mile kiosks to simplify order fulfilment on Farmoji and also pre-purchase shopping platforms (logical) for urban vertical farmers - the next wave in farm food retail."

View more

Attachments (3)

FARMOJI PROTOTYPE FEEDBACK.pdf

Prototype feedback as per template provided by OpenIdeo

FARMOJI PROTOTYPE.pdf

Prototy as per template provided by OpenIdeo

FARMOJI EXPERIENCE MAP.pdf

Experience Map as per template provided by OpenIdeo

21 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of marco mihambo
Team

Hello Eric Kotonya! I am back to you after a longtime without communicating. I need your advice on ICT related issues. If you see message please check me through this email: marco.mihambo88@gmail.com

View all comments