Over the weekend, we chatted with Abraham Omani Quaye, a Ghanaian entrepreneur. He is the founder of Farmart, an agri-marketplace that allows you to shop farm produce at a very cheap price, and right from the source. So far, he has been helping over 1000 smallholder farmers cut their post harvest losses. Quite impressive.
Abraham Omani studied Agricultural science in University and decided to go into farming after school. “During my search for land to start my farming, I came across several farmers who shared some of their farming experiences with me. Most of the farmers complained bitterly of their produce going waste and to avoid this they’ll have to sell it off cheaply to the middlemen to avoid getting nothing out of their hard work. In Ghana, farmers suffer over 30% postharvest losses which is really unfortunate.”
“This story is not different from the challenges majority of the smallholder farmers face across Africa. After doing lots of research on how to best solve this challenge, I decided to build an online farmer’s market to help these farmers reduce post harvest losses and increase return on investments by linking them to ready market.”
Truly, smallholder farmers in the continent face a lot of post harvest problems. It is also not surprising to see AgTech start-ups like Farmart springing up in other parts of Africa. Take a look at how YesHarvest is tackling this problem in Nigeria too.
Playing in the AgriTech sector has been a great journey so far for the Farmart team. Currently, they face a major challenge, and that is building a robust logistics to be able to meet growing demands. Though there are advanced plans to keep improving it. “We believe when problems abound, solutions abound more. The Agricultural industry has been estimated by the World Bank to be worth $1 Trillion by 2030 so these few challenges are basically opportunities in disguise for us”
The go to place for most consumers is the traditional/local markets or supermarkets.
However, shoppers go through lots of hassle and spend hours in traffic to obtain these products. Additionally, these products are not affordable, badly handled and have been stored over long period of time loosing a bit of it’s freshness. There are also online agricultural marketplaces but these platforms don’t handle deliveries and also customers are skeptical about freshness of their produce. Farmart offers an easy access to fresh farm produce sourced and packaged by us, sold at farm gate prices and delivered at the convenience of our customers.
“We had challenges with logistics and had to partner a Logistics company to handle this aspect of our business. We have made so much progress after this great partnership. Partnership was our solution after several discussions. We hope to also establish our own robust logistics in the near future.”
So far, the company has been bootstrapped and self funded from the founders’ personal savings and investments. Asides this, they were also selected as one of the entrepreneurs for the 2017 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program which gives seed capital of up to $5000 and mentorship to support African businesses. Recently, they were also winners in the Pitch Agrihack Africa Program organised by the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the prize award was a grant to scale their operations.
Farmart links farmers to households and businesses in a whole new smart way, and make money doing this.
“We charge a nominal delivery fee depending on the location of the customer and a percentage off orders from businesses. We also have Farmartbox which charges a subscription fee for either weekly or monthly deliveries of fresh produce in a box. Our new Farmart foodstore which enables local businesses that sell locally packaged foods to create their own online store and sell on Farmart also pay a commission of 10% for every sale.”
We have made extremely significant progress with the number of customers and businesses who shop on Farmart. We have also grown in the number of farmers we are impacting which is nearly 1000 smallholder farmers helping them cut down post harvest losses and have increased return on their investments.
We have also won awards and other recognitions which encourages us to keep changing the world through Agriculture. Some of them include Pitch Agrihack 2017 winner, 2017 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program, AppsAfrica 2017 finalist among others.
In 5 years time, Farmart aspire to have impacted the lives of over 100,000 farmers, scale their operations across Ghana and Africa. They won’t stop till they’re a household name in Africa for conveniently shopping for fresh farm produce and other groceries online. “We are the only generation who are optimistic about ending hunger and poverty and will be a step closer to this achievement through our contributions of helping farmers reduce post harvest losses by half and consumers having easy access to affordable fresh farm produce.”
I agreed with Abraham on this one where he opined that unlike other developed countries, African farmers have less or no education and this significantly affect technology adoptions. He also went further to say that this can be solved if Agtech businesses build farmer centered solutions which reduces the learning curve and can easily be used by the average African farmer.
And we had one last question for him…
Many are clamouring for the increased participation of youths in Agriculture. How do you think this can be achieved?
I believe the participation of the youth in Agriculture brings dynamism, enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and new innovations into the industry and it must be encouraged also due to an ageing farmer population. This can be achieved through trainings, mentorships, and funding of Agribusinesses. With the youth bulge on the African continent, Agriculture is one of the major industries that can absorb us through job creations, contribute to our economies and bring about inclusive growth.