What is the key to supporting entrepreneurs in the field?
Helping small and medium-sized farmers in the Latin American region is not only in the approval of better legislation and subsidies, but also in the development of holistic solutions that help them overcome their productive challenges.
By: Manuel A. Richter, co-founder of Luxelare, a startup promoted by Wayra Hispam
Don Silvano feels lucky to have to get up at 4:30 am to go to work in the fields. Unlike his neighbors, he has a job. Don Silvano lives in a town north of Sinaloa in Mexico, which depends almost entirely on agriculture; however, with the recent crises, unemployment has skyrocketed in the region. Small and medium-sized farmers sow less and have low yields, so sources of employment are scarce. Don Silvano's fortune is more than that, because continuing to work despite the regional situation is not a matter of luck, but of innovation.
The agricultural company where Don Silvano works invests in technology that enables them to use water efficiently, low operating costs and higher yields per hectare. In other words, the reason he still has a stable job is because the company's output is still stable.
When we talk about innovation in the field, we think that only large companies implement it. Today startups such as Luxelare , promoted by Wayra Hispam , the corporate innovation arm of Telefónica Movistar, develop digital solutions for the agricultural chain in Latin America, bringing the opportunities of digital agriculture to producers of all sizes, such as: the adoption of new agronomic knowledge and practices, access to tools that drive innovation, and access to digital financial services.
In 2015, Luxelare was one of the first to dedicate itself to offering drone-assisted agricultural consulting services in the North Pacific region of Mexico. The development of the company was stable, but with little impact. In a short time, my co-founder and I realized that we needed to do something more if we wanted to impact the lives of the farmers who needed it most. The growth of the agricultural sector is essential for workers in this area, but also for the economic recovery of rural areas, according to the World Bank. Growth in this sector is two to three times more effective in reducing poverty than similar growth in others such as mining, manufacturing, and services.
On the other hand, the UN estimates that around 81.3 percent of the agricultural fields in the continent belong to small and medium farmers, who continue to face serious obstacles and challenges to get ahead, such as droughts and floods where producers they lose most of their crops. The well-being of nearly 500 million families depends on the development of agricultural production.
In this context, a few years later, we launched Captum, an all-in-one digital platform for monitoring, recording and tracking crops. Captum is an intelligent agriculture solution that includes sensors, drones, satellites, and other agricultural assets to generate and transmit data on a specific crop, animal or practice to support the activities of farmers, so it uses connectivity between compatible devices with IoT to optimize production processes and growing conditions while minimizing costs and saving resources.
The deployment of this platform put us in contact with new problems in the value chain, such as lack of access to fair and affordable insurance, low interaction between industry and farmers, and low mastery of technology for the field. .
In 2019 we added another digital platform to our catalog of solutions, but this time, aimed at agro-insurance companies in order to facilitate the daily operations of insurance funds and enable the conditions to offer more accessible premiums to small farmers.
And finally, this year, we launched a digital extension service. A messaging platform by which we provide meteorological information and technical support to farmers who do not have access to a smartphone or the internet. In addition, we are currently working on the launch of an agricultural insurance company to offer parametric insurance tailored to the particular needs of farmers in each region of Mexico and Latin America and in this way, through our services, we contribute to closing the digital divide in field.
The path we have traveled at Luxelare is a good example that the market in Mexico and Latin America needs holistic solutions that add value in more than one area at the same time. Well, although there is still room for hyperspecialization, the agri-food chain demands this type of solution. The key to helping small and medium-sized farmers in the Latin American region is not only in the approval of better legislation and subsidies, but in the development of holistic solutions that help them overcome their productive challenges.
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