This post is part of our Future of Agriculture series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
1. What’s the history of Biorfarm? Where and how did you begin?
GC: Biorfarm was born in the last months of 2015, when Osvaldo de Falco, during a dinner with his best friend (me, Giuseppe), proposed to work on creating something innovative to help his family’s agri-business.
Osvaldo’s dad was a small organic farmer struggling to survive on the market because of his very low negotiation power against other actors present in the market. Sales prices – always imposed by purchasers – did not entirely cover the cost of the organic production of his stunning organic clementines.
Organic Clementines of De Falco Organic Farm were sold to the wholesalers and large-scale retailers at .31 cents per 2.2 pounds, then being resold to the end user at a sales price ten times higher. The delta between these two prices was not shared with the farmer nor with the end user, but instead kept by middle actors in the process.
It was at that dinner table that the Biorfarm project begun. It was this issue which was the first problem Biorfarm aimed to solve. Osvaldo’s dad’s organic citrus fruit trees were the first to be offered in adoptions.
2. What specific problem does Biorfarm solve? How do you solve it?
GC: Biorfarm’s objective is to create a direct relationship between small organic farmers and end users, providing to the latter the chance to create their organic digital orchard by adopting one or more organic fruit trees from the organic farmers part of the Biorfarm Community.
Through this approach, Biorfarm aims to solve problems both for small farmers and end users. From a customer point view, nowadays where food scandals are very frequent, and people struggle to collect information on what they bring to their table, to eat high quality food and to know something more on it beyond the mere origin has become a luxury only few of us can afford.
Low-quality organic products (which sometimes also traveled for days before coming to our tables), high prices and poor trust in the seller – mainly derived from massive production and industrial production approaches – represent typical concerns of most organic fruit and vegetable purchasers.
Current market conditions also penalize small farmers. In a market dominated by wholesalers and large-scale retailers who are completely free to impose low purchase prices, small farmers, due to their limited market size and limited capacity, always represent the weakest actors in the chain, forced to accept unprofitable transactions that in most of cases will cause them in few years to disappear.
To cut the distribution chain (eliminating all intermediaries), puts in direct contact small local organic farmers and end users through the mechanism of the “tree adoptions” grant, benefiting both parties. Small organic farmers get fairer prices for their products compared to those imposed by large scale retailers, with the possibility of gaining an advanced payment for production compared to all their traditional sales channels.
End users will not only experience and live the cultivation process thanks to their farmers’ sharing of posts, but also – thanks to the absence of intermediaries – will receive higher quality organic fruits at lower prices, keeping a direct relationship with the farmer who provided those fruits.
All these features push Biorfarm’s advantages beyond farmers and end users. Reducing movement of fruits and vegetables and supporting organic cultivation methods, Biorfarm also grants environmental benefits. Defending small organic farmers against unfair market conditions produces a social value for the society as well.
3. What’s the future of Agriculture?
GC: We imagine a more open agricultural system where everyone, thanks to technology, can cultivate (and why not, share) everything they want. Thanks to automation technology’s progress, those who have access to fields, even without any experience or help from experts, will be able to cultivate everything they want with a lower effort.
Adding agriculture of precision and inherent trends to this perspective, even those who will not have access to fields will be able to cultivate what they want from miles away.
4. What are the top 3 technological trends you’re seeing in Agriculture?
GC: From our point of view there are three rising trends in Agriculture with real probabilities of success in the future:
Trend #1: automation
Trend #2: agriculture of precision and…
Trend #3: gene editing
And although nowadays they look like minor trends in the industry in terms of real diffusion, we see that current, strong attention from market players will help to decrease the time needed for their complete implementation.
5. Why is the Agriculture industry ripe for disruption?
GC: Because for years, nobody focused and committed to its progression. And, as today demand for food is strongly increasing, this must be the right time to act.
About Giuseppe Cannavale
Giuseppe Cannavale is a Co-Founder and COO of Biorfarm. After a professional career spent working for leading consulting firms supporting multinational companies in improving their organization and overall performance, Giuseppe went to work for Biorfarm, committing in converting his dream to revolutionize the relationship people have with food. Since last year, his career objective is to create the biggest shared farm in the world, where everyone can cultivate and share with others the excellent food of his territory.