Ghana-based smart farming company Complete Farmer today opened its platform to buyers who wish to purchase quality agricultural products at competitive prices, directly from the company’s tech-enabled farms.
The team leverages technology and data to optimize the complete agriculture value chain, from mechanized farming, to logistics and transport, offering the buyer traceability and visibility from order to delivery.
Launched in 2017, Complete Farmer’s first offering has enabled anyone around the world to become a “crowd farmer” whereby they could invest in a farm, monitor and digitally experience the farming process in Africa. Currently, Complete Farmer has crowd farmers from six continents, with the majority in Africa, Europe and Asia.
By opening the platform to agricultural buyers, Complete Farmer now offers an end-to-end B2B commodity sourcing platform. It enables buyers to operate more efficiently and with less inventory, while also giving them full visibility into the process, from cultivation and planting all the way to quality control, transportation and logistics. These investors provide necessary financing so buyers don’t need to provide working capital for the farms - they simply need to purchase the produce, with price agreed upfront.
Globally, there is tremendous demand for platforms that provide transparency and reliability in the agricultural commodities space. “Industries suffer predatory pricing fluctuations via middlemen,” said Jin Tiao, the Procurement Officer for Chengdu Oil Extraction Factory, a Complete Farmer customer. “We do not have control of that level of our supply chain and have paid significantly in inventory to have enough raw materials for our factory. Complete Farmer gives us this control and visibility when sourcing and also provides us the luxury of having farms dedicated to our production, providing us with quality at high volumes.”
In addition to its buyer platform, the Complete Farmer team is bringing a completely data-driven approach to the farming process in Africa for the first time. “Right now when anyone wants to go into farming in Africa, there isn't a lot of information available on best practices and how to produce healthy yields. Most methods are based on empirical knowledge but not high-quality data,” said Desmond Koney, Complete Farmer Co-founder and CEO. “We’re providing a data-driven way to make farming more scientific rather than art which it is now.”
The team closely monitors the entire life cycle of each crop, gathering data to determine the best possible conditions in which to plant and grow it, the best times for harvest and the best transport conditions, all based on the end use case for the order.
“For example, a pharmaceutical company might place an order for carrots for it’s beta carotene content. The application of that carrot is different than it would be for a company who wishes to use it in food production, so we would grow it in a way that maximizes its beta carotene content by applying a data driven approach to the cultivation practices. For instance, we’d set a protocol for how much fertilizer to apply, at what time, and when to harvest. And we monitor the entire process closely, using technology, to ensure that everyone is following this protocol,” Koney said.
With Complete Farmer’s advanced technology and quality assurance, buyers on the platform have full traceability for their produce and receive updates on quality of yields and quality audits. All transport and logistics are managed closely by the Complete Farmer team, through partnerships with international logistics companies including Truckr and Jetstream Africa, to ensure on-time delivery
Today Africa has 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, but agricultural production on the continent is inefficient and unpredictable relative to other parts of the world. The agriculture industry is plagued by underinvestment. However, the industry is seeing a resurgence as young people - dubbed “agripreneurs” by the New York Times - are leveraging data, technology and new scientific advancements to get more involved in farming, enticed by government incentives and the desire to improve economic conditions in their home countries.
Currently the Complete Farmer platform supports over 1,500 acres of farmland across six regions in Ghana and is projected to export 2,400 metric tons of farm produce this year. Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, Complete Farmer is a portfolio company of MEST Africa and a 2017 winner of the Kosmos Innovation Challenge. The team pitched on stage at TechCrunch Battlefield Africa in 2018 and won DEMO Africa in 2018.