When agricultural last mile challenges are
solved, we end up with more functional food
Land O’Lakes Venture37 believes that when agricultural last mile challenges are solved, you end up with more functional food systems that encourage competition, increase opportunities for actors across the farmer-to-fork spectrum, and drive down end-user costs.
At Venture37 last mile delivery is all about enabling smallholder farmer access to markets. This includes inbound access to technology, know-how and inputs. It also includes outbound access – getting farm products to consumers. In many less developed countries, last mile challenges such as insufficient infrastructure, inefficient supply chains and limited access to data and analytics can account for 55-80% of a farmer’s production and transactional costs. Our approach to last mile is focused on building up systems that improve infrastructure, enhance aggregation, drive down transactional costs and create transparency within market systems.
Since 1981, Venture37 has leveraged the expertise of Land O’Lakes, Inc., an agribusiness that operates as both a marketing (dairy products) and supply (ag inputs, services) cooperative with industry leading brands and operations. With a nearly 100-year history of supporting farmer livelihoods across the United States, Land O’Lakes offers a unique farmer-to-fork view into sustainable last mile solutions.
Areas of Focus:
Infrastructure and Cost Reduction.
Often in the places we work, improved knowledge, techniques, products and services exist, but farmers lack access because they are unaware, are confined by geographic barriers, and/or they can’t afford the cost of delivery. We look to solutions that connect farmers to one another to aggregate both supply of product and demand for inputs and technologies. On her own, a dairy farmer without a motorbike can’t get her 10 liters of milk to a processing center. But with a milk bulking station nearby, she can aggregate her milk with her neighbors to make the supply attractive to an outside buyer. Farmers linked together can share costs of a rented truck, partake in group trainings from extension officers, negotiate pricing on inputs and hire in preventive veterinary care.
To us, this means integrity of the supply chain and market actors having accurate data to help grow efficient businesses. We study supply chains to understand where links in the chain can be adulterated, such as a break in a cold chain, seed certification, or adulteration of animal health products before they get to the end user. This also includes building transparent systems for farmers to reliably track supply, sales and payouts with the buyer, and also to hold farmers accountable to buyers. This transparency helps to reduce transactional cost and allows for improved competitiveness of the market system. From there we facilitate market-based solutions with local partners.
We also leverage technology that enables local entrepreneurs, academic institutions, financial institutions, governments and NGO’s access to market data. The right data in the right hands at the right time leads to systemic-wide smart decision making. For example, an agro-dealer tracking rainfall can advise a farmer customer on what fertilizer or seed to purchase for the upcoming season. Or a government extension provider knowing when calves are born in a region knows to schedule farmer consultations, preventive animal health care and what inputs to offer.
: Working to address artificial insemination delivery challenges in Ethiopia and Tanzania that will lead to inclusive growth of the dairy sector. PAID focused on improving infrastructure and supply chain management to support the last mile service delivery, transparency by improving of AI technicians, data management to allow the monitoring of service delivery. This drove cost of delivery down and made genetic gains available to over 225,000 farmers.
USAID Cooperative Development Program
: Increasing performance of cooperative enterprises in Rwanda and Malawi to improve livelihoods of their members and build more inclusive and resilient communities. A stronger cooperative leads to stronger last mile delivery systems. With support from CDP, farmers can more efficiently and effectively aggregate their product, understand commodity pricing, access reliable buyers, transport produce to the market and receive loans from financial institutions.
: Increasing agricultural productivity and expanding the potential for trade among farmer-to-fork dairy participants. Dairy products require a network of reliable infrastructure, innovative delivery methods and consumer demand. This project looked to solve last mile challenges in getting milk to the market through infrastructure improvements (refrigeration along the cold chain), innovative delivery (motorbikes, push carts, etc.) and improved consumer demand (through marketing campaigns and school programs).