Startup Review: Agriple Helps Farmers Sell Directly to Consumers, but You Have to Buy in Bulk
Agriple is an agritech startup that was founded by Vincent Okeke and Samuel Ogbujimma in August 2019. The startup provides ancillary services for farmers that help them to reduce their post-harvest losses.
Post-harvest losses are a big problem in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Despite the efforts to grow crops and have bountiful harvests, about 5% to 20% of grains are destroyed after harvest, 20% of fishes perish while 50 to 70% of tubers, tomatoes, fruits and vegetables are destroyed.
Two major factors that are responsible for this huge volume of loss are access to market and good modes of transportation for the agricultural produce.
Being able to access a large market for the produce will mean that they will not have to be stored for so long and will have lesser chances of spoiling because of preservation challenges.
Perishable goods like Tomatoes require vehicles that are very convenient for their transportation from the farm to the end-user due to their delicate nature. This ensures that the tomatoes do not become squished en route to the market or buyer.
Agriple solves the problem of access to market and good transportation using technology.
Tackling these problems
Agriple has developed an online platform that directly connects farmers to consumers and those who want to buy from them in bulk. Both farmers and consumers have to register on the site before they can use the service.
The farmers take pictures of their available products, upload it to Agriple from their dashboard and fill in necessary details including name, price, description and quantity.
To buy from the platform, the user selects the produce he wants as well as the quantity and adds it to his cart. You can browse and add items to your cart but cannot checkout until you sign in or create an account on the platform.
The products are from farmers across the country and are offered in different quantities. To deliver them, Agriple works with its own chain of logistics providers to move the goods from the farmer to the collection point or to the place the buyer designates.
I added a 100kg bag of Irish potatoes which cost N32,000 and was situated at a farm in Jos. I selected a delivery point in Plateau state for the produce to be moved to. The transportation fare to that location was N4,000 while it cost N3,000 to move it to delivery points in Oyo, Ogun, Lagos and other states.
It is unclear why there is such disparity in transport costs despite the distance.
Pros and cons
Agriple’s platform mostly caters to people who can make bulk purchases. Even though most goods are displayed with the price given for a unit of the goods, when the user wants to make the purchase, it turns out that one cannot really buy in the small quantities that were advertised.
For instance, a crate of egg is displayed on the site as costing N900 but when you add it to your cart, you find that you can not buy 1 crate but a minimum of 5 crates which will cost you N4,500.
In connecting farmers to consumers, Agriple has some competitors. One of them is Farmcrowdy which has an online store that allows people to buy in bulk from its network of farmers. An edge Farmcrowdy has over Agriple is the number of farmers in its network.
Agriple has about 300 farmers that are registered with it and it has access to some thousands more through its network while Farmcrowdy has about 25,000 farmers in 14 states across Nigeria.
Another advantage Farmcrowdy has compared to Agriple is that it allows people to buy in much smaller quantities than they can get on Agriple. Instead of having to purchase a minimum of 5 crates of egg, you can purchase the amount that works for you.
In terms of delivery time, Farmcrowdy delivers within 2 working days while Agriple does not specify the number of days it will take to deliver an order. The farmer does not receive the payment from the goods until they are delivered to the customer and confirmed.
While the prices of goods on Farmcrowdy’s store are more expensive than they are in local markets, the delivery cost on Farmcrowdy is very cheap compared to what Agriple charges through its logistics providers.
A purchase of beef and tomatoes that cost N26,770 on Farmcrowdy will be delivered at a price of N1,500 within Lagos state, while 5 crates of eggs costing N7,500 will be delivered from Lagos mainland to Jibowu for N4,000. Considering the cost of transportation, it makes sense for a buyer to buy from closer offline sources or cheaper online sources.
Buying on Agriple favors people who want to buy the really large quantities of the same agricultural produce. If you buy small quantities of different produce, the delivery charge is calculated differently for each produce.
Funding and sales history
Since it launched, Agriple has raised about $10,000 in debt and equity funding and is currently seeking more investment to scale its services in and beyond Nigeria.
According to the startup, it has sold 60,000kg of farm produce, which are worth about $35,000 in sales.
Nigeria has an obvious problem of post-harvest losses and Agriple’s solution attempts to address it. However, factors such as cost of transportation as well as making sure that many Nigerians can buy from the platform without having to be market sellers will make the service an acceptable alternative to potential customers.
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