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Agri-tech startup brings new hope for cattle farmers

  • Published at 02:59 pm July 30th, 2020
WEB_File photo of a cattle market_Edited_Dhaaka Tribune.jpg
File photo of sacrificial animals Dhaka Tribune

To bring transparency, iFarmer used live weight machines in the field to document the weight of the cattle, so that the farmer and buyers are aware of the price according to the cattle

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic and the flood situation in the country’s northern region is having an adverse effect on the supply of sacrificial animals ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, an agro-tech startup has enabled some 200 farmers to sell their cattle on the online marketplace.

Defined as a digital agriculture platform in Bangladesh, iFarmer focuses on connecting farm financers with real farmers in order to increase safe food production while promoting mass participation in agriculture-livestock funding.

“Eid-ul-Azha, a major Muslim religious festival that marks the end of the Hajj, is an annual blessing for thousands of permanent and seasonal cattle traders in Bangladesh,” iFarmer Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Jamil M Akbar told Dhaka Tribune.

The sale of cattle booms in the days leading up to Eid-ul-Azha, where thousands of permanent and temporary cattle markets are set up in villages, towns and cities countrywide, said Jamil.

This year, however, the dynamics of the selling of cattle during the festival changed as the government only allowed limited number of temporary cattle market amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a result, farmers or sellers might not be able to attract customers as people are afraid of getting infected with the virus, which has left farmers in trouble as they made investments in rearing cattle targeting the Eid,” said Jamil.

To solve this problem, the platform has taken shelter of online marketplace as after the pandemic, an increasing number of consumers have turned to e-commerce to buy daily necessities and cattle also.

“This is where iFarmer comes in. Since its inception, we have built a strong network of more than 5,000 farmers. This Eid, it has partnered up with online commerce such as Khaas Food Ltd, HungryNaki and Priyoshop.com, to directly source and supply cows and goats from iFarmer's network of farmers,” he added.

As of Thursday, iFarmer has been able to sell over 100 cows and 130 goats from these farmers through the digital platforms.

Speaking on challenges, Jamil said most of these online shops are customer-focused, do not have an existing relationship with the farmers, and lack a strong supply chain network to cater to this large demand for cattle.  

“We have a target to connect 50,000 farmers within next three years, 80% of them will be smallholder farmers and women farmers growing homestead vegetables, poultry and cattle,” he added.  

Products from farmers will be directly sold to buyers, such as small and medium retailers, in urban cities such Dhaka and Chittagong, along with agro-processors, exporters, online groceries and super shops. 

 Who is getting the benefits?

The farmers who are associated with iFarmer are now getting the benefit of selling their cattle without even facing the troubles of going out to the cattle market and bargaining with the customers.

On the other hand, the buyers are also being benefited as they can now receive their sacrificial animals at their doorsteps, without visiting any cattle market during this pandemic. This ensures both ends’ safety as well as fulfilling their needs.

To bring transparency, iFarmer used live weight machines in the field to document the weight of the cattle, so that the farmer and buyers are aware of the price according to the cattle.

iFarmer also tags all cattle in their directory with a QR code, which upon scanning will show the buyer the details of the cattle, its source and other information. 

How iFarmer works

iFarmer works with verified and trained partner farmers, offering them input on credit/partial credit, advisory services and then connects the farm produce to Business to Business (B2B) clients.

At the end of the farming cycle, the profit is shared among the farmers and farm investors, where the farm investors are individuals from the urban middle class segment of the economy who are funding the capital required for farming.

iFarmer has been focusing on financing livestock farmers, providing them with input and advisory services and helping them sell their produce directly to large scale retail buyers.

As a result, farmers are getting higher profits due to better quality of the livestock and being able to sell directly to institutional buyers