What is Crowdfarming? How does it work?
Crowdfarming is relatively a new concept which is initially created by two Spanish farmer; Gabriel and Gonzalo. Their aim to connect people with the foods and to cultivate only what is to be consumed. The idea of crowdfarming comes from crowd funding where a number of people pulled together their resources to fund a certain project in a way of investing their resources in their interested project. Like crowd funding, crowd farming can also be done over a digital platform. The founders of the crowd farming have established a digital platform where investors can adopt a tree, or a beehive even a rice paddy through crowd farming website and the harvest of their adopted tree or beehives will be delivered to their doorstep. The same idea can be introduced into Myanmar agricultural sector where many smallholder farmers possess the land and the knowledge for farming but always in need of sufficient finance. In return the investors can be interested in agricultural or eventually financial return from the fresh produce sale. Crowd farming can be an alternative source of finance for the farmers. Instead of obtaining the traditional loans, farmer can turn their farm into agricultural venture which investors served as shareholders of the venture.
Pros and Cons of Crowdfarming
There are many advantages in trying out crowdfarming idea. Firstly, many farmers in Myanmar are facing a huge financial loss due to COVID-19 outbreak. By trying crowdfarming, not only the farmers will have an alternative source of finance but also reassuring the food security of Myanmar by people pulling together their resources to help Agricultural sector in the country. Secondly, people are becoming aware of climate change in relation to agricultural practices. Crowd Farming is a perfect idea to promote regenerative agriculture which do not harm the soil and guide the farmers to lead the sustainable practice by supporting them with the fund for such practices. Moreover, the crowd farming can reduce the food waste considerably since it is carefully calculated to cultivate only the amount that will be consumed. Thirdly, through crowd farming, unnecessary long and complex food supply chain can be broken by farm to table direct service of the crowd farming. By cutting the middle men, the farmers have no need to worry about prices fluctuations of their produce, at the same time, the end users (investors) also need not to worry about the prices and the farm produce will be delivered to their houses. Since the crowd farming can be done over a digital platform, the farmers have a chance to have investors investing in their farm venture from worldwide not only countrywide.
Through there are so many advantages to crowd farming, there are still some drawbacks to be aware of. Since, farmers have to turn their tradition farm into a farming enterprise; there is a need to have a thorough business plan to be drawn by the farmers in order to deliver the harvest to the shareholders promptly and freshly. In addition, transportation is the heart of the operation for crowdfarming. In order deliver the farm produce fresh to the end users, the farmers have to calculate the risk of their produce being damaged due to the long transportation time or different weather condition and come up with a solution to avoid those problems. Lastly, there may be a need for a digital platform in order for the crowd farming idea to work. Due to a lack of knowledge on digital marketing and the use of technology, the managing of a digital platform can be a challenging task for the farmers. Although, there are some drawbacks to consider, these can be overcome by learning how to use the technology and learning how to do a business plan.
Crowdfarming Success Story
Although crowdfarming idea originated in Europe, Nigeria seems to be the country with the success of crowdfarming model outside European Union. There are currently eight crowdfarming startup digital platforms; Farmcrowdy, Thriveagric, Farmkart, Porkmoney, Growcroponline, Growsel, eFarms and Agropartnerships. Moreover, the startups even offered insurance for the funds invested for their subscribers (investors). The subscribers mostly invested in cowpea, peppers, cattle, water melon, Maize, rice, poultry, soybeans and tomatoes.
In Europe, Crowdfarming.com is the main digital platform to be able to invest in different projects diverse, range from Cheese, Beehives to Cacao Tree. The European crowdfarming model focuses more on regenerative agriculture, organic farming and the carbon footprints of their transported goods.
Applying Crowdfarming Concept in Myanmar
As the foods culture trend is Myanmar is turning toward to organic produce and farm to table direct trend, the demand for the organic farming is rising. Since the country is opening up globally, the awareness for the environmental concern is also on the rise. Therefore, regenerative farming such as permaculture which conserves and improves the soil, flourishes the eco system and organic farming which follows traditional farming practices without the use of pesticides and GMOs will be attracting the growing Investments which are coming into the country. As the economic growth of Myanmar is on the rise, transparency and digitization become important in order for the agriculture sector to get investments. Investing in Agriculture ensure the foods security of the country and helping the farmers out of poverty.
By using a digital platform as crowdfarming can attract both local and foreign investments due to the transparency of the farming update and process the crowdfarming can offer and at the same time it can becoming a tool for fighting the climate change by being responsible farming in agriculture. For the farmers becoming agricultural enterprises, they can offer other gastronomy business as hotels and restaurants their fresh produce directly with no middle man which create win-win situation for many small and medium business enterprises.
In conclusion, crowd farming is a new idea for farmers in Myanmar agricultural sector to try out and adapt to the idea because of the current situation with the COVID-19 outbreak and it is a solution to break free from the vicious cycle of credit and loans. With crowd farming, farmers may not need to worry about paying back the interest or paying back the loans. The risks are being shared with other shareholders together so the farmers can have less losses and less worry. Therefore, this new concept may be worth trying.
—–. (2019). The Digitalisation of African Argiculture Report 2018-2019. Wageninger: The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
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