This Tech Startup Could Reward Small Farmers for Sustainable Practices

Reader Contribution by Douglas Dedrick and Healing Law
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Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture “There’s an app for that”.

It’s not only a trademarked slogan of Apple, it’s becoming a fact of life. Well, what if I were to tell you that there is a new app in development that will help reward farmers for adopting sustainable practices. An app that will create a marketplace for farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers, and allows farmers to cooperatively purchase inventory to lower their operating costs.

Seems like a big ask right? Well, that is exactly what the folks over at the Carbon Drawn Initiative are building with Genihub, A tool designed to reward farmers for adopting sustainable practices, and much, much more. But before we dive into what exactly GeniHub is, I want to give you a bit of a background.

The Soil from Which this Tech Springs

Tokya Dammond, a co-founder of the Carbon Drawn Initiative, is a family friend. Over the years, I have done a lot of odd jobs for him as I grew up. From cutting his grass to attempting to fix his old, out-of-date BMW. During the years of working with Tokya, I learned about his company, SymBio.

Symbio is an international company that Tokya used to develop organic supply chains. A company he has operated for three decades, SymBio has always encouraged farmers and companies to adopt more sustainable practices, oftentimes working with farmers directly to teach them how to be more sustainable and creating an avenue for them to sell their produce.

This 30-year experience has played a crucial role in the development of the GeniHub tool, created by the Carbon Drawn Initiative. So what exactly is GeniHub?

Take a Look at GeniHub

Tokya Dammond, Co-founder of The Carbon Drawn Initiative, says to “think of it as the combination of Facebook, Amazon, and PayPal of Regenerative Food. Farmers will love how Geni automates all their payments plus their bookkeeping and accounting for you — it doesn’t matter which bank or accounting program you use. Geni is designed to truly be your “Geni in the bottle” (or in this case, in their smartphones). All the while helping farmers steward their land while growing nutritious foods.”

Genihub performs a lot of roles including to track produce from the seed stock to the farmer, and from the farmer to the production line. It allows farmers to co-op and buy equipment, seed, fertilizer, and more, and creates a new marketplace for farmers to sell directly to buyers. Finally, it allows corporations to reward farmers for adopting sustainable practices.

GeniHub Diagram Of Farmer Services Photo by Carbon Drawn Initiative

GeniHub will Track Produce from Source to Table

GeniHub will track a farmer’s purchases like the seed and fertilizer they purchase. And follow the produce as it is grown all the way to the manufacturing plant they are sent to.

How is this helpful?  Well, not only will GeniHub help manage your accounting. It will act to verify that your produce is grown the way you say it is. In much the same way that farmers pay hefty fees to get their produce certified as organic or non-GMO. GeniHub will improve the integrity of produce, and increase consumer confidence in the products they purchase, at no added cost to farmers.

For example, if an oat farmer in Wisconsin does not use synthetic fertilizers, and practices crop rotation. GeniHub will be able to verify this with their purchase history, and other auditing methods. This will allow consumers to be more informed about the products they are purchasing. Which can create a deeper level of trust in a product that does not currently exist.

The App Will Allow Farmers to Co-op for Purchases

“Being able to work with other farms would help us learn and utilize different technologies,” says Nate Krause, Operations Manager at Swans Trail Farms. “It is one thing to get hard data on our growing practices, but being able to interpret the information and apply them to our growing program is key.”

To put it simply, things are better when we work together. However, that is not always as simple as it seems. But GeniHub creates a collaborative space for farmers as part of what they call “Regen Street”. Essentially the Wall Street for regenerative farmers.

The technology will allow farmers to take advantage of bulk discounts by allowing them to collectively purchase seed, fertilizer, and pesticides. Additionally, farmers can co-op to purchase equipment that they need to implement a new sustainable practice, but simply cannot afford on their own.

And through the tracing of which practices work and don’t work, GeniHub will be able to provide feedback on what practices or produce work best in each region.

Creates a B2B and B2C Marketplace

In many ways, GeniHub serves as both a Facebook of sorts combined with an Amazon marketplace. Verifying products exist and that they are the quality they are said to be.

Farmers small and large will collectively gain access to a global market of businesses and consumers. Here they can list their produce and set their own price. And even allow them to negotiate with buyers through the GeniHub network.

For example, let’s say two farmers offer a similar oat product. Both have been verified as being non-GMO crops grown without pesticides. One farmer wants $2 a pound for his products and another is happy with $1 a pound. Meanwhile, the buyer is willing to pay $1.50 a pound.

In this scenario, Geni will notify each of them and automate the sale by serving as the “middleman”, much like how eBay automates the sale of a T-shirt. Additionally, the buyer will get details he wouldn’t otherwise receive about the produce such as; the region where the produce was grown if any pesticides were used, the variety of seed that was used, and any other practices the farmer may have implemented.

Allows Corporations to Reward Farmers Sustainable Practices

“Carbon Drawn plans to donate Geni to farmers around the world so that you will be able to login and have all of your marketplace transactions automated,” says Dammond. “Better yet, farmers can connect with other farmers to enter markets together. Even connecting with NGOs for financial assistance. Geni even allows you to connect directly to consumers and larger buyers. Geni will be able to authenticate the quality of inputs and products all along the way.”

In my opinion, this is one of the coolest features of the GeniHub marketplace. Here’s the deal: Corporations know that the last century of mono-cropping agriculture is simply unsustainable. And the last thing a corporation that turns a profit selling food wants is a collapse in the supply chain due to a new disease, drought, or other natural disaster.

As a result, corporations are constantly creating incentives for farmers to develop more sustainable practices. From purchasing carbon credits to giving farmers grants for practicing crop rotation. Corporations are continually looking to invest in more sustainable agriculture to stabilize their supply chains. As a result, farmers large and small can receive benefits, or higher profit margins by adopting better practices. And GeniHub will allow farms of all sizes to access these grants.

How Farmers Can Be Involved

GeniHub will aim to revolutionize the way that produce is grown, bought, and sold around the world. Furthermore, it creates a tool that small and mid-sized farmers with sustainability in mind can use as leverage to compete with the mega-farms using “conventional” farming practices.

Best of all, the tech is free for small farmers who qualify. The application is expected to be released and functional by the end of 2021. Only time will tell how impactful this app will be on the market, but it couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Douglas Dedrickis landscaper, documentarian and environmental law writer. When he’s not looking for things to investigate, he is usually writing articles about lawn care. Connect with him at Healing Law, and read all of Douglas’ MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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