Innovation continues to remain the key to unlocking the wealth of nations and it can be explored through various sectors of the economy. One such sector that has seen a massive innovation drive has been the agriculture space.
From precision farming to satellite imaging various disruptive technologies have been deployed in increasing the agricultural value chain.
One platform driving this development is Complete Farmer, a Ghanian based agtech startup. The platform is one of Ingressive Capital’s portfolio companies and since its inception in 2017, Complete Farmer has served buyers from the Netherlands, Germany, UK, China, India, Singapore, the UAE and Qatar and has digifarmer from all over the world on its platform.
The team looks to expand operations into Togo and Kenya this year to start expansion into Francophone Africa and East Africa respectively.
We caught up with one of the founders, Desmond Koney who also doubles as the CEO (Other founders are Charles Ofosuhene, COO and Andrew Quartey, CTO) who took us through how the Agtech startup is rebranding agriculture in Africa and making it accessible to everyone.
Desmond’s first journey into agriculture started when he had to manage a pineapple farm that belonged to his deceased father while he was in the final year as a mechanical engineering student.
This development became a challenge to him as he lost the farm within two years of trying to become a farmer.
“This was my introduction to entrepreneurship and to agriculture. I have always wanted to be an engineer because I felt it was a way not to be a farmer like my dad who had less fortunes from his farming venture.
This failure, however, haunted me and as a mechanical engineer, I was trained in building efficient production systems, and that made losing my dad’s legacy weigh me down heavily.”
However, he got the idea to build a farm just like the way he would have built a factory from his engineering background and thus Complete Farmer was born.
And that is where the Complete Farmer journey started, “I thought using engineering methodologies, like lean six sigma and agile methods could help design an efficient agriculture value chain and solve some of Africa’s pressing problem that has inhibited us from realizing the potential of agriculture on the continent.”
Since the agtech startup started, the vision has always been to make agriculture efficient and make it possible for African farmers to feed the world, thus building a solution that increases participation in agriculture by rebranding agriculture to make it cool.
“I thought, anyone who eats must be responsible for also producing food. And this was the best way to ensure food security and also revive my dad’s legacy.”
Complete Farmer’s mission and vision
As stated on its website, the mission of the agtech platform is to build an innovative farming platform that connects stakeholders by employing disruptive technologies to manage farms and supply chains for both producers and consumers, enabling each to gain a competitive advantage across various agriculture value chains.
Its vision as well is to become a global pioneer in crop production and enhance sustainable agricultural value chains through innovation and a shared responsibility to serve humanity’s need for food.
Speaking further on its vision, Desmond stated that it aims to create a world that eats together by working together.
“And we believe with the right combination of technologies today, we can be innovative in the way for is grown to keep feeding a growing population.
Farming should be a shared responsibility for everyone, farmer or not, and make farming a lifestyle rather than an occupation.”
In addition, the CEO stated that “we intend to scale across specific geographies in Africa engaging growers in specifics value chains to enable them realize the potential of feeding the world.
We believe this will enable stakeholders across the agriculture value chain to connect and to gain a competitive advantage using disruptive technologies.”
How Complete Farmer works
According to Desmond Complete Farmer always starts by securing buyers through its buyer platform.
The platform enables buyers to source for their agriculture commodities and customize orders to meet the demands and supply chain.
These orders as explained by the founder are vetted and secured with a letter of credit from a buyer.
Digifarmers on one end of the platform can buy farms and choose to produce crops. These crops will be grown by an expert Grower from Complete Farmer.
The digital farm monitors the whole process and gets a birds-eye view of work on their farms.
After harvest, an audit is done to let digifarmers know their yields. Digifarmers can now go into a marketplace on the platform to sell their yields to listed vetted buyers of their choice.
Buyers pay digifarmers for their yield and proceed to book the needed logistics, and certification services to ship the commodities to their preferred address.
The CEO explained that the startup’s concept of digital farming is an end-to-end platform that allows different stakeholders to perform value-added services to produce food that meets the demand of the market.
To do this Complete Farmer has developed different user interfaces for the various stakeholders and connects with a marketplace that enables these stakeholders to transact with each other.
Stating further, Desmind said that the main stakeholders on the platform include digifarmers, who are individuals passionate about farming from all over the world.
“Buyers are commodity traders, big food buyers, and industries in food processing, textiles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc that require huge volumes of agriculture commodities and at the right quality.
And also Growers, who are farmers who have been trained and are guided to cultivate crops using data driven cultivation protocols to meet certifications and market demands.”, he added
Complete Farmer’s uniqueness
On what the agtech platform is doing differently, Desmond explained that Complete Farmer had to take a contrarian approach to solving the problems of Africa’s agriculture value chain.
Complete Farmer’s approach according to the founder was to build a technology infrastructure that enables food producers, food buyers and food lovers to gain a competitive advantage, build their supply chains and have control over agriculture production.
“We have leveraged on satellite and data technologies to bring the farming experience to the interfaces of our users, and developed proprietary protocols to make farmers farm crops that meet industry standards and certifications.”
Explaining further, Desmond said that the startup gives its users full traceability and transparency using blockchain technologies to let them know what is happening across their supply chains.
Also on the Complete Farmer platform, digifarmers are able to buy farms, monitor the process in real-time and at the end of harvest sell their produce to bidding buyers on the platform who pay them for their yields.
According to the CEO, other platforms that use crowdfunding investments, however, Complete Farmer provides a marketplace for the various stakeholders to transact with trust and participate in an efficient end-to-end value chain.
Featured Image: Desmond Koney, CEO and Co-founder, Complete Farmer