For many of us, farms are the last front on which we’re able to have prolonged contact with nature; even if it’s only a remodeled version of nature, fashioned to fill our bellies and clothe our bodies. It has been this way for a long, long while.
But over time, it has become more shaped by technology. Hoes, plows, and tractors have taken their turns to ready the soil to feed an increasing population of hungry mouths. Farming has become heavily mechanized, and the practice of animal husbandry and crop cultivation is being transformed by cutting edge science.
These days, it’s digital technology that’s setting the agricultural sector alight. Thanks to the internet, farmers, marketers, and consumers can connect with each other in real-time, wherever they may be on the globe, and do business in a fraction of the time it would have taken them just a few years ago. The web is creating whole new markets for ventures across the agricultural value chain, and the savvy enterprises are making a meal of the whole thing.
Farm Cafe, a Nigerian digital outfit, is creating and scaling an agricultural market online. Unlike many other companies in the country’s thriving agritech space, it isn’t exactly connecting farmers with investors- at least not directly. Instead, it’s working to bridge a different sort of gap- an information deficit, which has kept farmers and agro-allied businesses from achieving their full growth potential. While the investment model startups link these farmers with sponsors, Farm Cafe plugs them into ready buyers and support that they can use.
It’s not surprising that Farm Cafe, an information-driven platform, would be the idea of a journalist. Oluyinka Alawode, who spent a decade covering agriculture for BusinessDay newspaper, founded the company in 2016. She says it was her response to a dearth of useful information in the agricultural sector, a problem she had repeatedly encountered in her interaction with industry players.
Just over two years in, Farm Cafe is picking up traction from the right quarters. Farmers, excited by the opportunity to market their products to a wider audience, are listing on the company’s advert boards. Sections of Nigeria’s army of young agriculture enthusiasts are learning about new technologies for the industry and agro-investment opportunities. With every piece of information uploaded to its website, Farm Cafe is taking local farmers and manufacturers to an expanding customer base spanning the breadth of the country.
All the buying and selling on the Farm Cafe platform happens on its sales notice section. It’s an online advert board on which farmers and agricultural products and machinery marketers display their merchandise. The items put up for sale are listed along with the contact details of their dealers, so that interested parties can get in touch with them.
There’s another way for agricultural businesses to get the exposure they want on Farm Cafe- they can have their profile showcased on the platform. A profile explains the engagements of the listed business to Farm Cafe’s audience and provides their contact information as well.
There are also periodic updates on produce prices on the platform for farmers and consumers who would like to keep up with the going rates at the markets. Other useful information supplied on the website include news stories, policies, study programs, and new technologies, all related to local and global agriculture.
Featured image source: Farm Cafe