In September 2018, TraSeable Solutions was fortunate to be invited to participate in the CTA Pacific AgriHack Lab competition in Tonga to pitch our new initiative, the Integrated Mobile and Web-based Market and Transport Access Platform for Pacific Farmers. The award for winning the competition was a monetary prize that could be used to scale-up activities and expand the business. This event came at an opportune time to test our initial concepts and acquire useful feedback from experts in the agri-tech field.
Having spent over a decade designing and building information systems that track and trace, provide record keeping and analytics using blockchain technology in various sectors, including fisheries, and having worked in many Pacific Island countries, TraSeable Solutions is well aware of the technical challenges faced by the agriculture sector in this region. Poor access to affordable and reliable internet services, limitations in infrastructure, especially in transportation, related to the remoteness of farmers from markets, and access to timely reliable market information are some of the similar issues shared across the islands.
The TraSeable Farms’ initiative aims to put the TraSeable Solutions web platform and mobile application in the hands of farmers, buyers, logistics providers such as transport and shipping companies, farming cooperatives, processors, and exporters at minimal costs. Therefore, any farmer can easily access markets and transportation to move their produce. The platform hopes to address some of the challenges faced by actors of the value chain, including information sharing, market access, produce traceability, logistics and training, and to bridge the information gap in the agricultural sector.
Specifically, our platform focuses on developing three core areas of the agricultural value chain:
- Farmer training – delivery of self-paced curated content to farmers in their language to enhance their productivity.
- Market access and consumer trust – tools to capture the provenance and traceability of produce from farm-to-plate.
- Logistics – linking logistics providers to farmers to streamline produce collections.
In the second half of 2019, the TraSeable platform will be complemented by our locally designed blockchain platform. Established in 2017 to enhance the traceability of seafood products from the Pacific’s longline fishery sectors, the platform will operate on the public Ethereum blockchain software – a first in the Pacific. This will allow any farmer organisation or fishing company to register their products as digital assets and have them tracked on the blockchain.
Pitch AgriHack training and pitches
We received pre-pitching AgriHack preparation training, which was excellent – especially the sessions on technical soundness that focused on the feasibility of the platform, using the business model canvas, and the opportunities available to access finance. Interactions with the trainers also really helped us, and no doubt other teams, to refine our pitch.
Understandably, our team was anxious as we all prepared to deliver our ideas. For TraSeable Solutions, this was the first time we had presented our pitch and the experience helped us to refine our ideas. We are now working on further validating them with relevant stakeholders of Fiji’s agricultural sector, as we work towards bringing TraSeable Farms online in 2019.
Pitch day was particularly exciting because we were joined by practitioners from the agricultural sector – who were in Tonga to take part in other project workshops. The day thus provided an excellent opportunity to network with potential future clients, and we were fortunate to make connections there that have since continued to develop.
Despite close competition and impressive innovations from the other teams, we were fortunate to place among the top three teams to win a prize, together with My Kana from Fiji and MalaAgri from the Solomon Islands. The award of €5,000 will allow us to develop TraSeable Farms, starting with activities to test our initial ideas with potential clients. It will also allow us to hire an additional local software developer to bring TraSeable Farms to reality later in the year.
Recently, there has been a surge in promoting entrepreneurship across the Pacific, including government initiatives like the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme in Fiji. There is a need to build and strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Pacific, and events like the Pacific AgriHack Lab help to contribute to towards this. We certainly need more events like this in the Pacific.