Magazine article International Trade Forum

Reshaping the Traditional Marriage between Technology and Agriculture: The Winner of the 2017 World Export Development Forum's Investment Challenge Sets out How the Company Is Aiming to Make a Change in Ghana

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Reshaping the Traditional Marriage between Technology and Agriculture: The Winner of the 2017 World Export Development Forum's Investment Challenge Sets out How the Company Is Aiming to Make a Change in Ghana

Article excerpt

Walking away from a failed e-commerce startup, my business partner Francis Obirikorang and I decided to try building a solution for agriculture, primarily because it was gaining a lot of investor attention at the time. In December 2015 we packed our bags and made a trip to northern Ghana. Over a period of two weeks we lived among smallholders to understand what their pain points were. It was an awesome experience that left us both awestruck and disheartened.

One noticeable issue was that the majority of the food consumed in Ghana is produced by farmers in the regions we visited, yet we could not see any positive impact their occupations had on heir lives. They lived in abject poverty and had no competitive markets in which to sell their commodities or were unable to transport their produce to the local, not-so-competitive, markets. This left them at the mercy of exploitative middlemen who purchased their products at ridiculously low prices.

We immediately knew we had to provide these farmers with large volume buyers. We approached a few big companies that were into food production and discovered they also had a huge problem sourcing large volumes of commodities locally and often times had no choice but resort to imports.

THE BIRTH OF AGROCENTA

The next couple of months were spent planning, brainstorming and building our solution to link the smallholders and volume buyers. By August 2016 we had completed work on the initial version of this solution. In September 2016 we opened AgroCenta, a platform that aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers through fair trade. The platform connects smallholders on one end to large clients on the other end.

It was a very new market for us that required a lot of learning and learn we did. We soon found that the logistics had to be on point to deliver optimum value to the buyer. AgroCenta therefore signed an agreement with the largest transport union in Ghana and registered all their truck drivers on our platform. We dedicated the first quarter of 2017 to on-boarding farmers and signing contracts with four very large buyers. In May 2017 we started purchasing commodities from our farmers.

BIGGER BUYERS

Between May 2017 and November 2017 AgroCenta bought commodities worth $120,000 from 3,000 smallholder farmers at prevailing market prices or a little higher. As a result, farmers made four times more than they used to and payments are prompt: 30% up front, 70% in two weeks after purchase. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.