Local farmers will soon have the ability to sell their produce directly to restaurants, caterers, manufacturers, hotels and retailers through an online networking hub, cutting out the middleman.
The project took three years to develop by Caribbean Chemicals, which will host the website for free to bona fide farmers.
The online platform – www.linkingfarmers.com – is strictly for locally produced foods such as fruits, vegetables, tubers, vine crops and animal by-products such as honey, eggs, milk as well as meat, poultry, fish to give farmers the opportunity to make the best profit.
Caribbean Chemicals Managing Director Joe Pires said the concept of the project aims to improve profitability and farmer livelihoods. He said the complaint of middlemen making the most money from a farmer’s crop was a real concern for many farmers. Caribbean Chemicals is a leading supplier of pesticides and other products to local farmers.
“We always say that if our farmers don’t make a profit, that means we will never sell products. So it’s important to us that our farmers make a profit and, logically, we all know in this country that the middlemen earn the most money in all,” he said.
Pires said some middlemen make up to 40% markup on the price of produce they buy from farmers when selling to supermarkets, caterers and other customers. He said the idea of directly linking farmers to consumers grew out of this idea.
“We want to help the farmers, again the concept is that if the farmers are not profitable we will not be so it is important for us to put in the money to build the website.”
Reacting to the website, root grower Ramdeo Boondoo, who received the Chaconia (gold) medal at the National Awards, hailed the initiative.
“It’s very good, the intermediaries want all the money and the farmer does not get recognition and benefits for his products.”
He said it would also help farmers “break out of the bubble” and produce clean, ready-to-eat food in a competitive market. Farmers will actually see the benefit of their investment,” Boondoo said. It specializes in hybrid sweet potatoes, tania, eddoes, among other provisions.
Boondoo said that in his 60 years as a farmer he had only tried to sell in the wholesale market three times, but each time his prices were “beaten” by the middlemen and he was risky to venture into the wee hours to get to these markets. He said he doesn’t think a “progressive farmer” will have a problem signing up.
Another farmer, Dillon Ramkissoon, 30, said he thought the idea behind the website was “a good idea” because of trust issues with middlemen who take his produce and pay based on market prices. market.
He said that often it comes down to trusting the farmer and the middleman to get a fair and equitable price for their produce. Ramkissoon said he was optimistic about connecting to the website “once buyers are able to pay in days rather than months.”
In the future, Caribbean Chemicals hopes to earn revenue from running classified ads on the website where farmers can offer tractor services or advertise the sale of their machines or vehicles, animals, etc. registered on the website, but they must be a bona fide farmer with a confirmed email, cell phone contact that is verified.
“We expect revenue in the future, but ultimately what we want to do is cover site maintenance costs and possibly a part-time employee to respond, monitor and resolve any technical issues,” did he declare. .
Pires said the pandemic has delayed the project, but he intends to launch it next week with an official post-Christmas launch. After its initial test period over the next six months, the company intends to roll it out to other Caribbean countries in which it operates, such as Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and 25 other Caribbean territories they serve.
According to Caribbean Chemicals, which has already started sharing a video on how farmers can join, the farmer or buyer creates an account on the Linking Farmers website with a valid email and phone and follows the process. registration.
The company says potential buyers can be both local and overseas and will be able to see what’s available as well as future purchases on the “buyer board”. In case any help is needed, an email can be sent to [email protected]. Farmers/buyers can also WhatsApp or call (868) 282-7507.