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.