Technological changes have been the major driving force for increasing agricultural productivity and development around the world. In the past, the choice of technologies and their adoption was to increase production, productivity and farm incomes.
Agriculture has a rich tradition of embracing technology to improve crop production, revolutionise how farmers run their business, and change the face of rural communities, just as Farmcrowdy is currently doing in Nigeria through its technological innovations.
It is on record that innovations such as the invention of the plow, refrigerated railcars, and the internet all have played pivotal roles in helping farmers become very productive in the advanced countries like US. This is exactly what Farmcrowdy is trying to replicate in Nigeria to boost food security.
Just as innovations in digital farming technology are helping smallholder farmers around the world produce more crops and feed their community, this technology has also bridged the financial difficulties, as farmers are now linked up with farm sponsors who have interest to invest in agriculture and get returns at the end of harvest.
Agriculture is becoming more integrated in the agro-food chain and the global market, investors can now run a farm remotely with the aid of technological innovation in the agricultural space.
In Nigeria, as populations continue to expand and consumers become more discerning, the race is on to develop agricultural technology that will help farmers produce more food to feed the ever-increasing population.
Presently, thousands of investors and small-scale farmers are making decent incomes as a result of Farmcrowdy technology model where investors can now run a farm remotely with this new platform. With the regular updates, images and farm videos, investors won’t find a better way to appreciate farming without soiling their hands with Farmcrowdy app tech.
The digital agriculture platform is offering a new way for Nigerians to participate in agriculture using online technology and making decent profit. Farmcrowdy’s service is not difficult but very simple. Nigerians can commit an agreed sum to own a minimum farm space, start and complete a farming cycle and make decent profit.
On how it works, farm sponsors can choose to sponsor a variety of farm types including cassava, maize, rice, soybeans and poultry (broiler chickens for meat); with cycles lasting between three to nine months depending on the farm. Farm sponsorships start from N96,000, and Farmcrowdy coordinates pre-arranged buyers to sell the farm harvest when the cycle is complete. The farm profit from the harvest is then split between the sponsors who receive 40 per cent of the harvest profits plus their original sponsorship, while the farmers receive returns of 40 per cent and Farmcrowdy gains 20 per cent of the profits.
However, investigation by Daily Sun shows that more than 80 per cent of farmers in Nigeria operate on a small-scale level and it is currently estimated that 38 million of them are unbankable. But Farmcrowdy, through pairing farmers with sponsors to effectively manage the farming cycle with training in smart farming techniques, supply of equipment and technical support has, over the last few months, ushered close to 3,000 small-scale farmers into the financial ecosystem, making them financially inclusive.
Speaking with Daily Sun, Co-Founder and CEO, Farmcrowdy, Onyeka Akumah, said there are so many problems in the agriculture value chain, which is an opportunity for people to take advantage of it. He said today, the opportunity seen by Farmcrowdy is financing the farmer to produce more food and helping them to sell the food they produce.
He hinted that the idea behind the system is to connect the sponsors and people that want to invest in agriculture with small-scale farmers, saying that Farmcrowdy would have provided everything a farmer needs to go full cycle such as seeds, fertiliser, labour, tractor services and whatever a farmer needs to go into full cycle.
He added: “We price into units to allow farm sponsors to come and sponsor those units. In sponsoring those units, they provide capital for the farmer to go full cycle until harvest. We also provide the farmers the technical field specialists. In addition to that, we also partner friends who provided technical field socialisation because now we are able to aggregate large pool of farmers to work with. Then, we also get the market, sell the farm produce; this is how we are able to determine the price we pay our sponsors back in terms of return after harvest.”
He maintained that after going through a full farm cycle, the tech firm then splits the profit between the farmers, the sponsors and Farmcrowdy, adding that the farmers get the 40 per cent of the profit from the farm, the sponsors get 40 per cent of the profit from the farm with their initial capital and Farmcrowdy gets 20 per cent.
Citing an example on how the whole system works, he explained: “For instance, may be if you sponsor a farmer that needs N100,000 to work on one acre of maize. This is just an example. With N100,000, if a farmer should go a full cycle and is able to get three tonnes of maize and you sell each tonne for N50,000; it’s still an example not the exact figures. So with N50,000, we get three tonnes on one acre. At the end of the day, out the N100,000, we make N50,000 profit. We then apply 40, 40, 20 rule where we pay back the sponsor the N100,000, then the farmer gets 40 per cent of the N50,000, which is 20,000, the sponsor gets 40 per cent, which is also N20,000 and Farmcrowdy gets N10,000.
“But the farmer on this hand, is expanding on his capacity. For instance, if a farmer has three hectares of farmland but every season, he’s only able to work on one hectare per season because that’s all his capacity can take, then Farmcrowdy comes in, leases the remaining two hectares and makes it available online. In doing so, the farmer now is able to make money from the income he gets from the lease, he’s able to make money from being part of the labour that works on the farm. In addition to that, 40 per cent of income that comes from these two extra hectares the farmer has always goes back to the farmer. In that way, we have been able to grow the farmer’s income by average of 80 per cent.”
He said the organisation has been able to work with 3,000 farmers in the last 16 months as against one farmer when it started operations in September 2016. He said the company has done about 500,000 acres of maize, 200,000 acres of rice and 125,000 acres of soybeans with farmers.