The cornerstone for every agricultural investment and food security is reliable historical food pricing record, unfortunately, Africa is not good at keep record. Policy formulators, investment organizations and farmers need reliable and affordable dataset to make informed decisions.
Governments need reliable price data to make policies, Agric finance houses also need reliable data to invest and derisk lending. Similarly, farmers/marketers of agricultural commodities need reliable market information to know when and where to sell for best value.
A typical scenario:
Loans are processed during the dry season (when farmers are not on the field), typically around January to March, food prices are usually at the highest (majorly because 95% of smallholder farmers in Africa practice rain feed agriculture). This means everyone plants and harvest at the same time and often times resulting into a glut and ultimately post harvest losses (evident in cassava and other perishable foods items).
Lenders make investment decisions based on the market price at this time of the year. Unfortunately, this period with surge in price are not the reality at harvest, often times there is glut in the market leading to faulty projections and in ability of the farmers to pay. Primarily, because the selling price at harvest is not he same with the project price when loans were issued.
Assume there was a reliable historical data, ag-financing would have been less risky. The data could be used to predict the price based on a 5 year price movement chart.
What if there is a decision support system for all stake holders in the value chain. A market information solution that will serve as a decision support system for farmers, government agencies, NGOs and finance houses.
Reliable and historic data across various food markets is the first step to reducing post harvest loss and enhancing food security. We are delighted to have this data across 12 countries and 160 markets across Africa (https://price.myagrocenter.com).
We started out as probityfarms, an advisory and farm management platform and soon realized that principal challenges of the smallholder farmer are access to credit and market. So we introduced Market metrics from the data we got from FEWS Network (a USAID initiative that has been collecting market information for the past 20 years)
We turned this into insights via a robust and easy to use data analytic platform to check food prices. Its work in progress and we are refining our machine learning algorithm to predict the future market price of food items for the next for 10 years.
Consequently, we have consolidated our solutions into myagrocenter.com as an agricultural intelligence platform. Our solutions are free to use at the moment as this will help to reduce the adoption barrier/ cost friction. Our business model is to gain traction as quickly and become a nexus for farmers across these countries we operate in.
Going forward we will find ways to monetize our platform, consequently, we need partnership opportunities to push our product across Africa. Also, we need capital to enable us collect more granular daily market information starting at the key markets in Nigeria and beyond.
To achieve our dream, we will use the raised capital to setup solar powered cold chain hubs in major markets, these will be the cash cow of the business. The power form the sun will be used to power the cold rooms, furthermore, the excess power will be used to build a community around the container/hubs. So there will be a cold room, a bank, a power and entertainment station.
Cold room: Market men/women can store produce for a small fee daily in crates
Bank: A POS Agent to render financial services for a fee as most rural communities or markets do not have a function bank nearby
Power Station: Phones and small gadgets can be charged for a fee
Entertainment Station: TV and football viewing center can also be embeded for markets with night life activities.
1. we will start making money more day one
2. Since we are in these markets we will easily collect prices of food items at a fraction of the cost of having to delegate a personnel to market daily.
3. There will be opportunities to franchise these cold chains for rapid adoption and market penetration.
4. strong vertical integration with other stakeholders in the agribusiness value chain
1. It’s a novel business idea, we expect challenges we can’t capture but we are determine to weather the storm and help Africa feed herself.
2. Market adoption time frame
The future it bright and It’s very exiting!!!