How Do We Improve Small Agricultural Producers to Improve Their Production and Marketing Decisions?
Produced by: Alejandro Bernaola / Investa VB Founder
In Peru, one of the most innovative projects in the agricultural sector has been carried out in recent years, this time it is not about irrigation works or expensive extension systems, but it is about solving the question: how do we improve small agricultural producers to improve their production and marketing decisions?
It is estimated that there are more than 2.13 million productive units called “small family farming”, many mired in poverty and extreme poverty, which face problems such as disorder in their production, low post-harvest quality, inadequate road infrastructure for market connection, presence of a high number of intermediaries, among others. All factors that permanently decrease their profitability and competitiveness.
In the face of this, together with all the regular activities carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, a year ago Peru decided to carry out an open innovation process, although formally they did not call it that, in practice that is what has been done. Companies and entrepreneurs have been called on to present and pilot solutions to provide information for the decision-making of small agricultural producers. A wide range of solutions ranging from improvement of productive aspects, sales price information, marketing opportunities, input costs and production factors, investment opportunities, agroclimatic information, pests and diseases, agricultural management among others, today are working hand in hand with producers and the government.
The interesting thing about this exercise is that many of the factors affecting the small producer are also valid for large farms. While the latter are modern operations that control well variables such as seed genetics, efficient fertilization and phytosanitary control, it is impossible for them to control abiotic stress (environmental stresses such as drought, salinity, high lighting and extreme temperatures). With this, a modern producer may wonder what it was helpful to spend more money on a better seed, if in the end in the production cycle he faces drastic changes in temperature that makes that seed not reach its full productive potential. This fact is configured as an interesting growth market for the solutions that have been piloted today.
Among the solutions that have been piloted today is: PACHATEC project of inQube LATAM which is an effort to create a digital backhron network without traffic lights for the agricultural value chain, PEDRO El Datero de ACM Ventures that provides daily weather information and prices of the market to more than 22 thousand users, Infoagro that provides information relevant to decision-making and Walkie Talkie AGROS that functions as a telephone exchange for advice and access to information by producers. These are just four of the more than ten solutions that have been implemented throughout Peru.
If Monsanto’s 2013 purchase of The Climate Corporation is said to have caused investors to start seeing agtech as a relevant investment destination, so much so that today it is one of the top investment destinations with nearly $5 trillion invested in startups in 2019, so do startups that offer digital solutions for small producers and the case of Wefarm operating in Kenya , Uganda and Tanzania with more than 2 million small producers and has already received investment from True Ventures, LocalGloble and Accelerated Digital Ventures.
It would therefore not be strange if any of these solutions that are piloted throughout Peru today ended up representing us in one of the FAC global competitions in the coming years, which will allow it to bring its proposal closer to small agricultural producers in the world.