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'Kickstarter' for farmers

500farms is a crowdsourcing and delivery platform that connects small scale rural producers to buyers in Nigerian cities

Photo of shola

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

500farms is a logistics platform that leverages technology to connect farmers directly to buyers in cities, creating market access beyond the geography of the farmers at a fair price & leveraging cities' higher GDP per capita.

Our solution lets buyers discover & pre-order produce. We aggregate the demands & place the orders with the farmers. On harvest, we ship the produce directly to consumers, cutting the time from farmers to buyers from about 15 days to 2-3days.

HOW IT WORKS
A few days/weeks to harvest, farmers (registered) send in their pricing & estimated output by SMS, which is fed into the back-end of our website. For the buyers, who are usually more sophisticated, they use the website/apps. The website runs similar to a flash sale site - time dependent and low priced - More buyers unlocks lower prices.

We then provide logistics for farmers by unlocking existing transportation solutions (similar to Uber), this means farmers are not bothered with storage, transport or market development, just on production.

The problems - glut at the farms when lack exist in cities because farmers can't sell, results in farmers' demotivation, poverty & lowers production - can be solved by INFORMATION SYMMETRY, DEMAND DRIVING SUPPLY & DEMOCRATIZING STORAGE. The UN estimates that saving food losses will solve the world's food security problems.

In addition to more production, an efficient system turns food losses of up to 40% into farmers' earnings.

WHO BENEFITS?

1.Women Producers
Small scale food crops farmers in Nigeria consists of 75% women, can get access to bigger markets, earn more & focus on production. No market development, no need/cost for storage facility means net increase in income & go up the $1/day narrative.

2. Consumers
Most consumers living in urban areas currently pay 100%-500% more than farmers sell can get low prices & delivery at their door.

3. Earth
Food waste (3.3B tons/year) accounts for 7% of global greenhouse emission.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

Nigeria

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!

500farms is currently a small team, looking for collaborators and innovators. It started out of an interest to improve the agricultural supply chain in Nigeria and the significant disparity of food prices between urban & rural areas.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Yes it’s a new idea. We have been fine tuning the thoughts around it for a few months now.

With background as an architect and also being involved with production in the agriculture value chain over 2 years now, we discovered that hunger, food waste and spoilage are a logistics problem. This idea provides a logistics solution that leverages technology to crowdsource buyers for small scale farmers.

Most of the farmers we have come across have been women, and the national statistics confirms that over 75% of food crops farmers are women. However, they encounter barriers - cultural and resources- that make it difficult for them to thrive.

So we moved from production to design a solution to help most of the small scale rural farmers who are hit twice - being female and poor - earn more so that they can have better livelihoods - higher income, comparatively less work, more productive time for their family and afford basic healthcare, clean water at shorter distances, to fix leaking roofs, finance farm inputs.

This leads to a bigger and wider impact that what we did previously, for the farmers, economy, buyers, existing partners in the supply chain and the environment.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

We are using the last mile to drive the first mile - We provide farmers with direct market access that is demand driven (Pull) and aggregated rather than the traditional supply driven approach (Push). Through this we are able to democratize storage (hundreds of kitchens and pantries and encouraging private storage centres). This de-risks the farmers and entrusts storage to people with better capabilities & needs.

We enable information symmetry between farmers and buyers just before harvest, so that we can crowdsource pre-orders in bulk.

Time from harvest to buyers or storage is key to improve & simplify the supply chain. We are synchronizing and optimizing existing assets in the value chain. i.e transport,skill & storage.

By generating huge data points of demand and supply, we can operate better and predictably align assets even before harvest seasons to improve timing, reduce waste and advice farmers on what viable crops they should be planting.

Agriculture in Africa is one of the sectors least invested in technology. Technology and the internet offers us a unique advantage to crowd source fragmented small scale farmers and buyers at an unprecedented scale in Nigeria.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

500farms is driving the idea. The team is committed to moving it forward. At maturity, it will among others, consist of developers, designers, field managers, logistics managers, call centre agents, marketers. We are continuously seeking partners to help deliver better results.

In the beginning, we will be serving buyers from 3 districts in the city, from farmers in one local govt, so the early team will be minimal consisting mostly of generalists who can operate across different roles

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

We tested the assumption that all small rural farmers that owned a phone should be able to send us a sample sms about their harvest(or learn within 5 minutes).

The more important learning was about 40% didn’t have airtime or enough at the time to be able to send us the sample SMS. How can we meet these extremes?

We are considering a multi-lingual customer care center that offers a BEEP service – As long as farmers have 0.01 left on their phones, they can beep us, and we will call back to attend to them. High cost? We will experiment with integrating a VOIP service to cut cost.

Another feedback was that we found it much easier reaching farmers through referrals than approaching them directly.

We saw a need to build relationships & partnerships with businesses, government and non governmental agencies that have some level of programme with small scale farmers in the earlier stages of production in order to onboard farmers faster at scale.

This also reinforced the need for community/field managers, to enhance and build relationships on ground with the farmers to ensure trust. It will also help verify quality and quantity before they are shipped out from the farms.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

1. Buyers are a key driver of our idea. With the prevalence of on-demand services, how might we be able to get buyers to wait a few days before getting their deliveries? Will offering low prices and convenience be enough?

2. Rather than spend a lot on marketing, how might we build a system that helps to generate the word of mouth needed to crowd source buyers?

3. How can we at the beginning incentivize independent transport drivers to be more reliable considering their strong unions?

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

The solutions in the past have often been fragmented and isolated rather than a holistic view of the entire supply chain. Some assume a production problem & start producing or stimulating it. Data (supply and demand) is sparse and scattered so it is difficult and inefficient to connect the dots.

Technology. It is always useful to rebase ideas from time to time with technology change because what didnt work yesterday, may be much easier today with the availability of newer tools. Physical markets used to be an appropriate 'technology' to aggregate & crowdsource, now it's the internet. Designing based on newer technologies will break barriers for producers to improve earnings & livelihood.

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

Ultimately, an efficient system for small scale producers like Miriam to be better economically empowered to take control of their life decisions to afford basic needs such as healthcare, shorter access to clean water, fix leaking roofs & better nutrition. As 75% of small scale producers of food crops in Nigeria are women, we get an opportunity to impact not only women and girls, but boys and men as well.

We start one farm after another, one producer after another, $1 saved after another.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • Less than 6 months
  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work
  • 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

We provide farmers with direct market access that is demand driven (Pull) and aggregated rather than the traditional supply driven approach (Push). This also democratizes storage.

The traditional practice when smallholder farmers harvest, is to take it to the local market. Unfortunately, most of the farmers in the same community farm the same produce, so they cannot buy from each other. They are too far out from urban areas, and have poor market knowledge beyond their geography. Middlemen take advantage of this competition & poor market knowledge to drive a bargain.

This has translated to lower income, production for the small scale farmers has also fallen since most go to waste and they have to compete with other farmers for the same middlemen who have limited capacity.

On the other hand, in urban areas, food prices are high, mostly because of unavailability, losses during transportation & lack/poor storage.The current system has successfully created a glut at the farmers end and lack at the consumer's end, as distances from farms to urban areas stretch for hundreds of kilometers.

Our solution is to use technology to unlock values of all kinds of unused/underutilized assets from skills, produce to transportation infrastructure to improve the supply chain.

The first solution our technology platform does is to provide information symmetry between the farmers and the consumers.

The second allows consumers to place orders online. This runs like the Kickstarter model, allowing people to refer friends so that it can reach a tipping point faster so everyone can benefit.

The third, democratizing storage, is to provide logistics and transportation support between the farmers and the consumers by pooling truckers (similar to Uber but for trucks). Spoilage and waste is a function of time, instead of produce bouncing from one market to another looking for buyers, which can take up to 15 days, having a committed buyer shortens this to 2-3days.

By understanding the different users( farmers and consumers) we provide appropriate technology for them to use the platform. Simple SMS for farmers and a more robust platform for consumers.

36 comments

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Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Shola, below are some feedback from the Amplify team and our experts. We look forward to reading your responses!

It'd be important to look at the impact at household level, what it is doing for household incomes. It's also important to apply a gender lens to see how and whether it empowers women, and to see if smaller scale and poorer producers can be brought into these supply chains.

-How many of your producers are women and what is their experience of using this scheme? How have they been socially and economically empowered by this?

-Are any producers aggregating into cooperatives and associations so that buyers can consolidate their logistics and buy from groups rather than individuals? How far from urban centres are buyers prepared to travel to source production? 

-We'd like to know whether long term relationships are developing and whether buyers are changing between suppliers. Does it encourage a longer term predictable relationship so that a farmer is able to supply regularly to order and predict their costs and income over an extended time period? Is there a risk is of buyers long-term between suppliers leaving farmers with an unsold stock. 

Photo of shola
Team

Thanks Chioma for the feedback from your team and the experts, they were really useful. I ll respond to each block of question in a different comment box.

|Question/Comment|

It'd be important to look at the impact at household level, what it is doing for household incomes. It's also important to apply a gender lens to see how and whether it empowers women, and to see if smaller scale and poorer producers can be brought into these supply chains.  

|Response|

Families like Miriam’s want better education for their kids, access to quality healthcare, eat nutritious meals outside of the ones they plant, get clean water in shorter time and to fix leaking roofs, however, these are limited to malaria induced dreams or some occasional hand outs by aid agencies.

Miriam farms on 1.2 ha but has access to land (5 ha) that is unproductive because she knows she wont be able to sell them all and a lot will go to waste while she toils at the marketplace searching for buyers. With 500farms, she can increase her output, sell all before harvest, earn more and still have more free time on her hands. These sees her sustainably and gradually climb out of the less than a dollar a day pool.

With more earnings and free time, she has more disposable income to improve the quality and standard of living of her family, some of the distance dreams do not seem like a mirage any longer.

Quite a number of these communities have values and culture that they complain are waning, they are happy to have more time to nurture, share and pass on to the newer generation because during the off farming season, they don’t have to bother with going to sell at marketplaces.

We had subtly indicated in our user experience map using Miriam the tomato farmer but we didn’t have enough room to document this. We found out quite early from our encounters that we would be dealing with more women (about 75%; national statistics) than men (about 25%). For food crops, our areas of interest, we discovered that apart from clearing and cutting trees, women do most of the others from planting to harvesting, processing and retailing at the market, which are areas where our solution focuses to bridge the economic gap – waste and gender.

So we recognized that an effective solution like 500farms for small scale producers should solve the problems of people on the extremes in poor communities, because if we do, people in the middle will be easily taken care of. These extremes consist of women, because aside the number, in most of these rural communities, they are doubly hit – poverty and being female – and have significant cultural and economic obstacles limiting their efforts.

Trends have shown that unlocking the economic empowerment of women is beneficial to everyone in the society – boys and men included, not just girls and women.

The solution is actually for small scale producers, if we can find them. There is a minimum effective quantity that is required for a viable transaction for buyers (determined mostly by the size of the smallest truck available for transportation). So for a campaign to take care of smaller scale producers, we will aggregate their produce into one campaign (Typically, most producers in a locality farm the same things).

Photo of shola
Team

|Question|
How many of your producers are women and what is their experience of using this scheme? How have they been socially and economically empowered by this?
National statistics indicate that 75% of the small scale producers in Nigeria are women. We do not have enough engagement beyond running tests to measure any metrics or their experience yet, but their expectations during our discussions about what it could offer were high.

|Answer|
They shared what they could do with extra funds, if they were able to earn more, being able to allocate resources as they see fit; better healthcare, access to clean water, nutritious meal, nicer wardrobes, better roofs/newer house. They didn’t speak about education much (primary & secondary), mostly because they figured government was doing enough with the free schools, but they wanted to be able to afford their kids going to college. 

Photo of shola
Team

|Questions|

Are any producers aggregating into cooperatives and associations so that buyers can consolidate their logistics and buy from groups rather than individuals? How far from urban centres are buyers prepared to travel to source production?

|Answer|

First a very simple analogy of how the process works.

Miriam has 100kg of tomatoes in Gboko to harvest in 4 days. We set up the campaign seeking for buyers. In 2 days, we got full subscription from 3 people, Paul – 30kg, Jessica -24kg, Femi – 56kg. After harvest, Miriam receives payment, we take the tomatoes, arrange transportation and ship to Paul, Jessica and Femi who live in Lagos (320km from Gboko).

So buyers’ roles are limited to placing orders. We consolidate the orders and the logistics. The challenge in Nigeria is that most (about 70%) of food is produced 300km – 1100km away from denser cities with higher per capita income. So it is not productive for one buyer to travel to source production, however one buyer can set out to source production for 100 other buyers, this reduces the unit cost of transportation.

A hack exists to this solution, typically when people in cities travel by road for business or visit home towns, farmers/producers come to the side of the highways in their villages and set up shops. Travelers buy a good bulk because it is way cheaper than in their city and they also serve as ‘souvenirs’ for neighbours from their trip. It is also very common for friends and families, who are aware of the trip to request a predominant produce common to the destination.

A number of producers aggregate into cooperatives and association. However one of the core of our idea is to find ‘takers’ for producers before harvest time, so that they don’t have to bother about storage, and considering rot kicks in when harvest begins. I think the cooperatives will be useful for access to producers and the knowledge they provide but there may also be disenchantments with the methods the cooperatives uses in prioritizing whose produce to sell and when. We could A/B test it and set required metrics to measure outcomes.

Buyers (in our case – busy professional in cities who do grocery shopping) wont find it efficient to travel 50km more than once a month to get groceries.

Photo of shola
Team

|Question|

We'd like to know whether long term relationships are developing and whether buyers are changing between suppliers. Does it encourage a longer term predictable relationship so that a farmer is able to supply regularly to order and predict their costs and income over an extended time period? Is there a risk is of buyers long-term between suppliers leaving farmers with an unsold stock.

|Answer|

Our interest is to build and develop long term relationships with producers on one side and buyers on the other. When a producer like Miriam comes on board and has a successful crowdsourcing campaign where they sell all their farm produce, it is unlikely that they would come back since they have nothing to sell, until the next harvest cycle.

Our buyers’ (busy professionals living in cities – grocery shoppers) needs are more frequent. Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly.

But because buyers can see producers details and history, they may be more drawn to purchase by supporting producers and communities anytime they have a campaign.

It does offer predictability for farmers and this will become much better over time with data, which can provide farmers with information such as the most viable produce, the most requested, etc.

Our solution limits the risks by attempting to help farmers sell a few days/weeks before harvest time based on estimated output. If the campaign is unsuccessful, it allows the farmers begin to consider other options while there is still time before harvest.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Wow, Shola - thanks for taking the time for such detailed responses!

Photo of Ashley King-Bischof
Team

Hi Shola,

Best of luck with everything! I'm going to leave the team just so it's clear who will take your idea forward. Let me know if you want to discuss more ideas in the future. You know where to find me. 

Cheers, 

Ashley

Photo of Dr Simon M Holland
Team

Shola, your idea is great and I'd like to respond to your second question as to how to crowd-source buyers. Have you heard of the Farmers' Market initiative started by many a support agencies like OXFAM, FAO, GIZ et al besides lot of agri-entrepreneurs? It is a weekly haat/market whereby the farmers bring their fresh produce to a designated urban area and the mailers go to consumers well in advance to source their fresh supplies mainly organic and indigenous produce directly from smallholders. Collaborating with such existing or starting a new initiative like this would provide you ample footfalls and eyeballs both on brick-n-mortar as well as online market ventures! 

Photo of shola
Team

Thanks Dr Holland.

I didnt get to see any useful material on the Farmers' Market initiative by Oxfam, etc (until replying this comment, I thought it was a program 'Farmers' Market Initiative' and that was what I had been looking for), I will get back to researching it. 

Thanks for your input.

Photo of Chenkai Li
Team

Hi, shola. That is a great idea!!! I love it and think your idea is pretty promising. Meybe you can use agricultural Internet of things technology in your idea.

Photo of shola
Team

Thanks Chenkai Li for going through and the suggestion. I will explore to see how that can happen. Thank You.

Photo of YU-TING HUANG
Team

This is a good idea!
Good job, Shola.
It really helps small-scale farmers to improve their lives.
Thank you for sharing.

Photo of shola
Team

Thank you YU-TING HUANG for taking the time to go through and the commendation. 
Really grateful. 

Photo of Ifeanyi Nnaji
Team

Hi Shola, great idea here. Reminds me of the ''Good Eggs'' brand. Do you reside in Lagos? It will be great to connect and see where I can be of help in this project. My team and I currently came third place in a recent Lagos hackaton competition. Our idea was focused on providing farmers with real time information of their farms using a device (IoT) on the farm. It was quite a nascent idea but it really grew my interest in solving problems faced by our farmers in the country. 

Photo of shola
Team

Hi Ifeanyi, Thank you. I dont live in Lagos, I'm at Abuja at the moment. This is my email though, shola@500farms.co. Let's talk more. Thanks.

Was that the hackaton at CChub? Are you and your team still progressing with the idea? I will look up the Good Eggs bit. Thank.

Photo of Ifeanyi Nnaji
Team

Hi Shola, Thanks for the reply. Sorry about the delayed response. It was a Lagos Lab hackaton at Design Institute. I will do you a quick mail now.

Photo of Stephane Leblois
Team

I really love this idea and you're right: waste created from farming surplus is a huge problem. I find your solution to be excellent. Have you piloted this project on the local or state level? 

Photo of shola
Team

Thank you Stephane.
It's been tested on a small scale with some lessons learnt, but not a large enough scale to really appreciate the difficulties that would come with all the moving parts. We have also found a great deal of useful resources on the Ideo platform and a few discussions from comments that is helping us review how we plan to approach it in a leaner and efficient way. 

So, No, we havent done a pilot yet, but we will be considering one soon with about 3 villages to start. Thanks.

Photo of Leah
Team

Hi Shola

Thanks for posting such a neat idea. To me, it seems like the solution is quite simple but it takes a third party management system to help pull all the loose ends together. I know your primary focus is to help lift farmers out of poverty by eliminating spoilage and ensuring they are able to sell their goods in the market at a fair price. Who are some of the transportation companies that you are going to be working with? Will they be reliable? What can be done in between harvest seasons to help farmers as well? Inevitable, there is going to be a small amount of food waste even in the process of eliminating food waste. Maybe you could establish a composting initiative (if possible in Nigeria) to help enhance and nourish the soil for the following years crops. Also, I know you said that the farmers are not the only ones who suffer in this equation - that there are many consumers in the city who are forced to pay these high food costs. How long will it take before urban areas begin to see costs for fresh food decrease? Will this sudden drop in price harm any other established businesses in the area?

Photo of shola
Team

Thanks Leah for taking time to read about my idea. The objective of the solution is to simplify the whole supply chain process and make the user experience as simple as possible, while we handle the heavy lifting in the background.



At the core of the solution is to use technology to unlock the value of all kinds of assets from skills, farm produce, vehicles, spaces in a scale uncommon with the agriculture sector. We are evaluating in three basic steps that can scale;

1. provide information symmetry

2. Allow consumers place orders

3. Provide logistics support



So a part of the projects requires that we will pre-register truck drivers - whether independent or corporate - to move produce from farms to designated locations. Usually, they would be linked to farms close to their current location (the thought is sort of like Uber for Farm Trucks). Ratings is expected to help regulate them better.



In my attached user experience map, I had subtly indicated that farmers will be given pamphlets to educate them on protocols for harvesting, standards, etc. It can be expanded further, however the thought is that there are a lot of work going into that by lots of other organizations. If we are successful in helping them earn better, we also then have an opportunity to provide education. Or maybe provide referrals.



We expect that every consumer that uses our platform begins to get low prices immediately. We think that our model ensures that people tell their friends about it, since you need enough people to reach a tipping point that actually confirms the purchase at a low price.



On whether it will harm businesses, I want to think that it mostly builds a more efficient collaborative system, since it utilizes existing infrastructure and skill. However, I think it will harm existing middlemen more. It will probably make established business lower their prices - which is good for consumers, or make established businesses source from us, which still works to the benefits of the farmers.



The other perspective is that consumers pay for losses (40% extra) usually occasioned by farm produce bouncing from one market to another looking for buyers which can take up to 15 days, resulting in decay, taking up spaces, etc.



I hope I have been able to answer your questions, please point out any grey areas as it's still a work in progress and I am still actively thinking about how to make it better.

Thanks

Photo of Leah
Team

Hello again!,

Let me walk through this response step by step. Is there already an established network of truck drivers or trucking company that exists in the areas of which you are working or is this something you hope to establish? Do you think when they realize how much money the city people and the farmers are saving that they may try to increase transportation costs? If so, would your model be able to survive this and how? What does rating actually mean and how will farmers have access to this rating? Moving on to the farming aspect, I know you mentioned something about creating a pamphlet, and that there are many organizations that help with the farming. Do you have a partnership with any of these organizations? I think that having a strategic plan before launching, maybe having a partnership with 3-4 villages that deliver to the same city would be a great way to start. That way, you can adjust any inefficiencies, see what works and what doesn't and then add to the number of villages you will be working with once the problems have been worked through. Another thing you might consider is appointing a mentor for each "pod" or "cluster" of 3-4 villages that is ready and available to address any questions or concerns any one has from farm to city. That way, as more and more villages become a part of this - their is direct leadership/mentorship available. 

Photo of shola
Team

Thanks Leah once again for your interest and helping me to think harder about it.

The trucking business is mostly fragmented, though they have associations that help them take care of themselves. but mostly each person finds their business by themselves. There are owners who have fleets, and use their network to form partnerships that enable them get jobs. We may not be able to control an increase in transportation fees, but we should be able to offer fair rates per km and produce being shipped to any truck driver who is interested. The objective here is to limit the capital required for us to run operations. Alternative is to pitch people in our network to buy trucks into our fleet and guarantee them returns periodically, based on the volume of our transactions.

Ratings do not apply to farmers. Farmers role stops at harvest and truck drivers take it from them, at that point, sales for the harvest have been concluded and paid or about to get paid. What is left is how to get it to buyers. The rating is sort of an assessment of an engaged truck driver required in house to help make better choices in the future.

On the farming aspect, some of the organisations I was referring to included the governments, UN, AU, NGOs and lots more who have lots of focus on how to help farmers improve production. I dont have any partnership with any of them as at now, but I see that this may be useful, as we can have direct & easier access to the farmers they have been working with. A win-win for everyone, Wow! That can really work out big. That surely needs to be an area to look at. Thanks!

I see your point and agree to it, to start with a strategic approach that allows learning from a carefully picked cluster and grow from there. I'll take that on board along with getting a leadership/mentorship for clusters.

Thanks a lot! Very useful inputs.

Photo of Leah
Team

Shola,

Thank you again for your thoughtful response. There is one thing that stood out to me and that was at the very beginning when you mentioned that each person finds the business themselves. Are you saying that the trucking companies are in search of farmers to deliver for or that it is the farmers responsibility to find truckers to transport their harvest for them? I'm not very familiar with this country but is there enough stability with the infrastructure to ensure adequate and timely communication can be made?  This is a very great project idea and I hope that all my questions are helpful to you as you navigate this process.

Photo of shola
Team

Ok, maybe I didn't communicate properly. I ll try and do better with this explanation.

The only role that I anticipate for these smallholder farmers apart from production will be to send the information about price and quantity.

Just as we pre register farmers, we will also pre register truck drivers, and also encourage them to have gps/location tracking, so whenever we have confirmed a farmer needs to harvest, based on the location of the farmers, we will send the closest truck with the appropriate capacity to the farmers. We make the payments (Trucks are supposedly hired by the aggregated buyers). Truck drivers are always looking for businesses, we expect this will be a good value proposition for them.

Mobile technology has about 80% penetration in the country and so, SMS will be sufficient for adequate and timely communication for the farmers and trucks. Follow through calls may also be required.

Overall goal is to have a more efficient supply chain even with about the same resources that currently exist - production, trucks, infrastructure, etc.

Thank you, and yes your contributions have been useful, helping me think harder about it and refining my contribution.

Are you involved in development work or an entrepreneur? Thanks for taking the pain to help think through this submission.

Photo of Brent Saulic
Team

That is a great idea!!!

Photo of shola
Team

Thank you Brent! Encouraging.

Photo of Ashley King-Bischof
Team

Hi shola . I'm honored to be added to your team. In order to find out what that means, let's have a Skype chat and see how we may be able to influence each other's platforms in both Nigeria and Kenya. One day we will want to be in both, no?! Is there an email address I can reach you at? Cheers. 

Photo of shola
Team

Essential a team helps make your idea better. And seeing that you have successfully launched a pilot, won a startup competition, you have a bit more experience and can offer guidance against some pitfalls. Thanks Ashley King-Bischof for accepting. email is shola@500farms.co

Photo of Brian Powell
Team

Hi Shola,

I like your concept for connecting farmers directly with customers through electronic ordering.  Consumers like to know where their food comes from and connecting with the farmer directly definitely has positive social benefits as well economic ones.  

I'm looking forward to learning more about your approach as this challenge continues.

Cheers,
Brian

Photo of shola
Team

Thank you Brian. 

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great share Shola! Have you and your team started to test 500farms with small-scale farmers in Nigeria? What's the current status of this platform? Also you might like to check out this like-minded platform idea in the challenge: Markit Opportunity - Mobile Auction for Smallholder Farming Trading 

Photo of Ashley King-Bischof
Team

Thanks for the intro Shane Zhao . 

Shola, we have many things in common - we want to connect farmers to markets, and we believe that you have to get your hands dirty in logistics and transportation in order to do that well. Glad to hear about your idea.  We are strongly encouraged by the use of an agent model to collect goods from farmers (independent of their cooperative representatives or using full-time staff in-house). Would love your feedback on our idea page.

What would your plans be for storing such large varieties of crops (as you are delivering direct to consumers)? We have a small storage space in our farmers' region that allows us to store surplus from trades and sort for quality and varieties of onions.

Just had a chat with Gordon McCambridge from NODE: Remote Data Monitoring for Agricultural Storage and Processing and they are going to send us a few NODES to start tracking critical variables in our storage facility in order to keep quality high (temperature, humidity, etc). Should be an interesting next pilot for us!

Photo of shola
Team

Thanks Ashley King-Bischof for your feedback, there is quite a great deal in common between the ideas. Congratulations on your award last year and it does validate your idea along with having run a successful pilot scheme. Though we are a bit behind you on the timeline, it does encourage us to what is possible. I will look at your idea page for a possible feedback.

Our idea rests on using technology to unlock and optimize unused or underutilized value of all kinds of assets from skills, spaces, produce to delivery trucks in the agriculture value chain.


This seems to resonate with your agent model and I think it’s an optimal approach.


Our focus is mainly on logistics and transportation, so we do not plan for long term storage, however we will have sorting centers to organize each consumers’ supplies before last mile delivery. Farm produce will often be in a state of flux, as they will be demand driven.


The objective here is to get products as quickly and as early as possible from farmers who do not have the capacity to operate storages to consumers who need them immediately or to businesses that have capacity and funding to operate storage facilities. It is sort of like democratizing storage. This limits capital investment required & risk.


Thanks for referencing Gordon McCambridge 's idea, I will take a better look at the NODE, There is probably a use case for logistics and transportation in there somewhere.

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Team

Thanks Shane,

We ran a small 3 weeks trial with 2 small scale farmers (tomatoes and snails) using Whatsapp & Blackberry messenger group as a platform for consumers to place orders, aggregate demand and conduct some market research.

We are currently trying to build the customer facing platform (see screenshots in the contribution) with some technical difficulties that has resulted in a few setback.

Thank you for the reference to Markit Opportunity - Mobile Auction for Smallholder Farming Trading . Great lead.

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Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

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Team

Wow!

Thanks a lot, very much appreciated.