Currently, there is a large gap in the development of technology designed for smaller scale agriculture when compared to large commercial farms in the EU and USA. Large commercial farms have access to expensive precision agriculture machinery, such as tractor add-ons, but this technology is simply not applicable for the majority of smallholder farmers, leaving them at the mercy of their environment.
This most profoundly presents itself as pest/disease outbreaks, or extreme stress during periods of drought or frost. But there are also more foreboding long-term problems such as regional crop suitability, and long-term management adaptation to climate change.
For many of the regions we work (Central America, Africa etc), information on how to respond simply doesn't exist, because technology isn't available, and extension support is too expensive. So most farmers have to reply on word of mouth, or their own empirical knowledge. But as the climate changes, this approach is becoming more and more irrelevant.
Uniqueness, Technology overview, barriers to competition
We see ourselves as the infrastructure which allows information to transfer from research to farmer. Our two greatest advantages are:
1) We are not developing novel models ourselves, but are partnering with the leading research institutes in the world. Researcher institutes produce the greatest scientific understanding of any sector, but they often struggle to scale the uptake of their work, which provide a clear synergy to integrate their work into our system. Competitors who develop their own models are often restricted to only working with one or two crops, or run into the problem model validity.
2) We have invested in developing our own hardware. Put simply, this means that we can offer our services at a fraction of the cost of our competitors who have to buy hardware in externally. This allows us to break into markets at much larger scale than the majority of players in this sector.
Market size and analysis
The market potential is enormous in the smallholder agriculture sector, and many are deeming it the next big frontier for innovation. If we take coffee as an example; 80% of coffee is produced by smallholder farmers (25 million in total). Our customers will be the farmer cooperatives, and the farmers themselves (depending on the market set-up). Working via cooperatives can be a useful step to reduce the cost to individual producers, and to tap into current networks and services that have been established by these organisations. Through our contacts in the coffee sector, we have an initial reach of approximately 180,000 producers.
Beyond coffee, our connections to NGO associated farmer cooperatives (such as Fairtrade), equates to an initial addressable market of ~2,000,000 smallholder producers. Although our serviceable market will be restricted to the initial crops listed above.
|First Name||Last Name||Job Title||Impressive Facts|
|James||Alden||CEO||James was awarded Young Development Agriculturalist of the Year jointly with COO Paul. Whilst working for Imperial College London, James was responsible for business plan development of EC H2020 project 'EMPHASIS'.|
|Paul||Baranowski||COO||Paul was also awarded Young Development Agriculturalist of the Year alongside James. Paul was invited to give a presentation to an FAO committee in Panama regarding climate smart adaptation.|
|Gabriel||Brueckner||Product Designer||Gabriel has worked and studied in a multitude of countries including the US, Korea and Japan. Giving him a practical understanding of global design.|
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