Opinion: online farming attracts young, ag innovators

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Opinion: online farming attracts young, ag innovators

By Keron Bascombe, agri-blogger and writer

183780_10150419983260532_2072401_nHow does one go about creating an interest in agriculture? Many within the sector and other related fields will clearly see the importance of agriculture; the industry that provides all food. However, much of the general public is vastly unaware of this.

With the average age of farmers being 45-55 years, the next generation is expected to take up the mantle. Yet again, many youths are uninterested in the sector. Despite these adversities, young, innovative agri-entrepreneurs are making their mark on the global food industry and tackling these issues head on.

Atkin and Arvin Isaac make the perfect example. As founders and owners of Isaac Holdings Limited (IHL), these entrepreneurs are taking the extra step to change the outlook of farming. They have embarked upon a captivating consumer marketing strategy called "Online Farming". The title gives a nod to longstanding farming games such as the online social media pastime Farmville or the handheld video game Harvest Moon. However the only similarity lies in the creativity of the concept and its application.

Online Farming is a social media-based service that allows consumers to partake in farming activity in the comfort of their home or workplace. It is aimed at persons who do not wish to partake in field work, those who are unable to be physically present to manage a farm enterprise or those who are strapped for the time needed for agricultural endeavours. With such a target market, potential clients refer to any person that is interested in farming and agriculture.

Using Online Farming, a client is able to invest in one or more beds of vegetable produce. This investment comes in a "bundle" and includes all the inputs necessary to ensure high yields from the designated bed. Therefore all seedlings, fertilizer, fungicide and pesticide application, weeding, labour and most importantly record keeping duties are all included in the "bundle." Once produce is grown and harvested, consumers can choose whether to have their produce sold at the fresh market or have it delivered to their own storage facility. IHL and the client agree on a percentage beforehand towards each party for either earnings from produce or the produce itself. Therefore each client receives highly specialized, one-on-one service.

Crops include lettuce, chive, celery, melongene, ochro and cucumbers along with other seasonal crops. Management of each bed is supported by simple, yet efficient use of crop sheet recording, which means the application of pesticides, weedicides and the like are carfully monitored, applied at scheduled intervals and only at acceptable levels for safe human consumption. This segment of the business is heavily supported by extension services and technical consultancy.

In order to monitor the growth of their produce, IHL makes full use of social media. Consumers are encouraged to be "Online Farmers." Via pictures and video each consumer can make decisions, monitor and manage their bed through frequent social media updates. This segment of the IHL consumer relationship strategy has been very well received by the general public. The ability to make a small investment, with management privileges and diversified rewards is dazzling incentive to many. Consumers have the option of making physical visits to their bed to examine their investment first hand. With such control over one’s investment, consumers are given the right to entitlement as an agribusiness owner.

The IHL business strategy is a powerful initiative in food production, entrepreneurship and agribusiness. It represents forward thinking in agriculture with respect to public awareness of food sources, food security and consumer/market relations. Positive feedback from the public proves that an interest in the agriculture exists and that in order to arouse it, forward thinking is the key. The aim of these young entrepreneurs is to continue to make strides in the field with improvement and innovation at the basis of their decision making. Feel free to visit there facebook page for more here.


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