Matchmaking for fa...

Matchmaking for farmers: AgroCentral brings innovation to Jamaica's agriculture sector

An App that Minimizes Produce Waste, Supports Food Security

Jermaine Henry and Janice McLeod, two young Jamaican application developers know that local farmers who cultivate top-quality produce often have a hard time selling their entire crop due to their lack of direct access to the market, and always have to handle the consequent spoilage. To solve the problem, they devised AgroCentral, a mobile application that will serve as Jamaica’s first digital agricultural clearinghouse.

When Jamaican farmers bring in their fruit and vegetable crops, they face agricultural buyers who supply the hotel and restaurant trade. Rather than attempting their own marketing, growers are sometimes at the mercy of middlemen in the race to sell a field of fresh produce.

The island’s large food brokers are often guided by strict standards of color and size in their selection, leaving behind perfectly good food to rot in the field. The more perishable the produce, the greater is the potential for loss during the reaping season.

Powered by Web-to-SMS and SMS-to-Web technology, AgroCentral works to link motivated buyer businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, directly with small farmers who previously relied on middlemen to sell their products. AgroCentral’s clients will be able to identify and purchase large quantities of produce straight from the farm, allowing farmers to trade directly with the end of the market chain. Middlemen, who currently maintain delays and high markups as they buy, will be significantly weakened, allowing for more competitive pricing and higher revenues for the producers.

AgroCentral will have multiple revenue streams with a sustainable subscription-based business model, including paid subscriptions (for both farmers and businesses); SMS marketing for companies (agribusiness, loan entities, PC banks etc.); and selling data to agricultural stakeholders and escrow service.

The app was originally the brainchild of the duo and two other youngsters in October 2013 during Startup Weekend Jamaica (SWJA), where the team would eventually claim the grand prize.

AgroCenetral also participated in the Entrepreneurship for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC)’s mobile boot camp and the investment simulation, which are supported by the government of Canada and infoDev, the World Bank Group’s innovation and entrepreneurship program. “[infoDev] provided us with feasibility and financial models so we have actually been able to move forward very rapidly”, says Jermaine Henry, Co-Founder of AgroCentral.

In the future, the young entrepreneurs plan to launch AgroCentral even outside of Jamaica. To learn more about AgroCentral, visit their official website at: www.agrocentral.co or follow them on twitter: @agrocentralja
 


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