Today in developing nations, 500 million smallholder farmers live in poverty and do not have access to the simple services that would help them to improve their lives such as having access to digital identity, opening a bank account and securely transacting theirs produces in a trustworthy environment.
Of the world’s 40% population who earn their income from agriculture, the UN estimates up to 50% of crop value is lost between harvest and sale. Poor transaction, planning, processing, storage, and transport all play significant roles in crop degradation and spoilage, and a loss of value to farmers and their communities. According to the world bank's most recent estimates, in 2015, 10 percent of the world’s population lived on less than US$1.90 a day.
Many factors keep smallholders farmers in poverty, known from the many organisations and NGOs working for decades to solve the SDGs number 1, "you cannot solve poverty without financial inclusion at scale, and you cannot solve financial inclusion without technology that is relevant" said David Davies, founder and CEO of AgUnity. The most fundamental factor of poverty is the lack of access and benefits from advance agricultural technology - mechanized land preparation, improved seeds, and efficient irrigation systems as well as planning and forecasting tools. those same techniques that have made developed words farmers more productive than ever.
According to the United Nations, German farmers grew 7,200kg (15,873 lbs) of cereal crops for every hectare of land in 2016. Overall, farming is 0.6% of the German economy. Meanwhile, in Mozambique, which depends on agriculture for 25% of its GDP, farmers grew just 820kg per hectare, a little more than one-tenth of Germany’s yield. Farmers in rich countries are more productive than those in poor countries because they use better technology and infrastructure.
Most technologies are benefiting developed nations farming industry, but it doesn't mean it translates and scales for developing country farmers where farmers face more fundamental issues related to connectivity, transaction transparency, communication, and infrastructure challenges. So how to improve the productivity and livelihoods of developing world smallholder farmers and enable their families and communities to lift themselves out of poverty?
First, their needs must be the focal point of innovative AgTech products and services. To meet this challenge, companies must adopt a Human-centered design fit for farmers, Call it the Farmer-centered design. To succeed in this venture companies must evolve alongside the three critical phases: Immersion, Connection, and Trust.
Farming is very complicated and involves a lot of variables. Understanding the nature of agriculture in a specific developing country is critical to creating solutions that are relevant and truly work for farmers. A lot of people and organisations try to help smallholder farmers, but compassion and the desire to do good for the world is not enough to create a product that resonates with this extremely targeted and specific audience in solving their real problems.
Immersive study and research are essential to understand the agriculture process and chains in developing nations because what works in Australia or other western countries tend not to translate in developing nations. David Davies, CEO of AgUnity and his co-founder John, spent one-year living and working with remote communities of farmers in Kenya and witness first-hand what their real struggle was. They discovered that what was holding farmers back to improve their productivity was not only about inefficient production and farming practices but the major lack of trust and cooperation in the supply chain, between fellow farmers and between farmers and their local cooperative and buyers. " We take this for granted in Australia, but it's vital for effective cooperation, and without cooperation, smallholder farmers are on the wrong end of economies of scale and inclusion. " said David Davis.
The absence of safekeeping record system paralyzes the exchange of goods and slow down the buy and sale process at every level, reflecting in a lower price for farmers, the proliferation of corruption and a substantial increase in product wastage.
Deeply understanding what farmers in developing countries need is not possible without setting foot on the ground, listening to farmers and their communities' daily concern, and identifying needs, help to draft and designing solutions that offers relevant products and services and as importantly matches the digital skill gap.
Solving world farming problems at scale is about crafting the most relevant solution possible, both answering micro and macro needs across the globe. By creating a platform for farmers to transact, and organisation to finally reach farmers, AgUnity is creating the tool designed for millions, and because the platform evolve in applets and add functionalities over time, every farmer is able to have his own version of AgUnity and each organisation partner customize and distribute their own version of AgUnity as well.
There is an AgUnity for each and every farmer, and that is what the platform brings, a digital platform that creates a secure and auditable transaction framework for the 500 million farmers in developing countries and the organisations that interact with them.
Conceptualized as a "multitask utility tool" and intended for everyday use, AgUnity is a dedicated smartphone device and operating system, which offers farmers access to the services they need and a platform for organisations to supply those services. For example, after partnering with organisations such as bank and insurance companies, AgUnity integrates the partner solution into the AgUnity platform and together with the partner, supplies the AgUnity smartphone device to the targeted farmers at scale.
A solution that can change the economic climate for hundreds of millions of smallholder farmer must commit to giving the tool for:
Companies providing solutions able to connect farmers with economic institutions will ensure economic inclusion at scale and impact smallholder farmers, worldwide.
Smallholder farmers are risk-averse. Often, increasing smallholder productivity and proposing new practices requires farmers to experiment: Digital technology, harvest equipment, a new planting technique, or investing in financial services. Farming is full of unknowns, and most of the farmers AgUnity work with simply never had any technology before. Developing countries smallholder farmers can barely afford to risk their already thin margins. Trying something new requires preparation, time and a fair amount of faith. “it takes time, but the trust that we now have with them is extremely important and farmers value that” said Angus Keck, COO at AgUnity.
Trust helps farmers to foresee the value of new technology and products. Trust facilitates the adoption of innovations. AgUnity works closely with local agricultural officers and supply chain representative during piloting phases and creates e-learning materials in local languages. Simply having information available in their local language is key to build trust with farmers. "They can access educational content from the learning center in the mobile phone, they can learn about health and hygiene best practices as well as harvest techniques and also information on when is the best time for them to harvest." said Jerbos Teshome, Project Stakeholder relation and field manager of AgUnity in the Limmu Kossa region, Ethiopia.
As an AgTech and platform company serving smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago, trust is vital in distributing our smartphone and technology at scale. “Transaction and money technology are all about trust,” said David. A farmer must trust that the money they exchange via the platform and the crop they sell will convert into real buying power. Farmers and cooperatives buy and give harvest with a 3-steps distributed ledger technology ensuring safe record and transparency of all transactions.
Trust building requires flexibility though, noted David Davies. “The farmer doesn’t care about distributed ledger technology and all those things you’re talking about, and they should not see the technology behind”.
To solve the United Nations SDGs and end hunger and food insecurity, investing in technology for smallholder farmers around the world is key to solving it. But there are no simple fixes. Financial institutions, buyers and traders, NGOs, and SDG programs need to put smallholder farmers at the center of solutions. To do this effectively, AgUnity executes alongside immersive research and study, connecting farmers with organisations and creating a general state of trust is one way to go.
AgUnity Pty. Ltd is conducting a Crowd-Sourced Funding (CSF) on the Equitise (https://www.agunity.com/invest) platform. This document is not intended to, and does not, constitute an offer or invitation of securities in any place outside Australia where it would not be lawful to make such an offer or invitation. It is the responsibility of the Investor to ensure compliance with all laws of any country outside Australia relevant to any investment in the Company. The distribution of this document outside Australia may be restricted by law and any person who comes into possession of this document outside Australia should seek advice on and observe any such restrictions. The failure to comply with such restrictions may constitute a violation of securities law in those jurisdictions.
Like any investment, Crowd-Sourced Funding (CSF) is risky. Investors may lose their money and the business may not achieve its objectives. You should consider the CSF offer document and the general CSF risk warning (https://equitise.com/warning-statement-au) contained in the offer document in deciding whether to apply under the offer.