The local agricultural landscape is undoubtedly moving towards adoption smart agriculture methods, whether in urban or rural areas.
But to become a successful farmer is not just about finding the most efficient way to farm; you also need to keep bookkeeping systematically and find the best way to finance expensive agritechs.
Branding as an agri-fintech startup, Captains is an early stage beginner focusing on empowering small farmers through digital and financial inclusion. Their name is abbreviated capital for farmers, which in translation means capital for farmers – summarizing their goals.
The captains are co-founders Nazrul, Iskandar and Hadi, who are the CEO, CEO and CEO of the company. Nazrul was an engineer in the telecommunications industry, while Iskandar was a member of the Sime Darby Group and ZTE, and Hadi is a specialist in system integrators.
Helping small farmers to innovate
“While most small farmers understand that adopting technology will improve profitability and efficiency, they are living the harvest to harvest without surplus capital that could fund the high initial costs of high-tech farming systems and equipment,” the team shared with Vulcan Post.
Although there are many agricultural loans with relatively low interest rates available in Malaysia, farmers are still reluctant to borrow. The reason is the lack of financial data for making informed decisions on the installation of agritech.
“Our short-term goal is to help small farmers create solid results about the past business performance of their farms to anticipate future growth potential,” they explained.
If this works according to plan, this data will give these farmers the confidence they need to make informed decisions like any other business.
For now, there is little such data for small farmers, because most of them do not keep books at all, and their farms are still managed in a traditional way that mixes personal income with income on the farm.
Starting from the basics
Since this is still an initial startup, Captains is still conducting beta testing with a group of farmers, and Android users are currently only available by invitation.
Basically, this works: when farmers subscribe to their bookkeeping application, it will help them create solid records of their farm’s work. Next will be to show their credit and investment ability to potential financiers.
Directing public investment in the local agricultural sector will be done through the P2P microfinance platform, on which the Captains team is currently working.
Dictionary of dictionaries: P2P (peer-to-peer) financing (quite similar to crowdfunding) allows individuals to obtain loans directly from other individuals, excluding financial institutions as intermediaries. P2P financing sites typically have a wide range of interest rates based on the creditworthiness of the borrower.
A wide range of interest rates might appeal to farmers looking for better rates than banks can offer.
“The long-term goal of the Captaincy is to connect farmers who want to seek affordable loans with Malaysians who want to invest in food production in a simple and transparent way that also empowers local farmers,” the team simplified.
“But before we can do that, we need to ensure that farmers can invest by quantifying risk and loan repayment by systematically recording historical data on farm performance (costs, activity, production and income).”
For Captains, the prerequisite for fundraising on their platform is that it can only be used to adopt agritech. Farmers do not need to deposit any collateral because they are microloans.
Connecting lenders and users
In addition to seeing the need to empower local farmers with agritech, the Captains team also saw an increase in public interest in investing in agriculture.
This is due to the demand for cash crops such as chillies, stone melons and cucumbers that can be grown locally but are mostly imported for now.
“The opportunity to invest in these crops is limited for ordinary Malaysians due to the high entry barrier in terms of agricultural skills and experience, land requirements and high initial capital investment,” they posed the problem.
Lenders can access real-time farm data and farmers ’credit scores through the Captains app, which also personalizes profit-sharing and repayment terms based on the financial health and performance of individual farmers’ farms.
Still, one of the risks the team noted was that agriculture is the sector most affected by climate and natural disaster risks. Therefore, they are considering ways to mitigate these risks by insuring crops, and the premium would be shared by both farmers and microfinancers.
Tim Kapitani also clarified that they want to position farmers and the public as partners instead of investor relations in which they invest, so ROI would be in the form of profit sharing instead of interest.
“P2P microfinance could connect with the farms they funded and visit their farms, as this is an important way to build long-term trust and relationships.”
Giving love to Malaysian chilies and ginger
They currently have 100 small farmers helping them test their application, and most of them come from their partners, which are Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan Kuala Langat (PPK Kuala Langat), Pewaris Bumi Hijau, Sulaiman Plantations and GM Peladang.
“Our customers are mostly ginger and chili growers. Ginger and chili were recorded as the largest crops imported, around 80% and 73% to serve Malaysian domestic consumption. That means about 300 million RM of imports a year, ”the team shared with Vulcan Post.
This is a huge opportunity for small farmers as this is an existing gap in supply and demand in the local market. We just need to ensure that the adoption of agritech can help local small farmers produce crops that can match the value, prices and quality of the imported ones.
- You can find out more about the Captaincy here.
- You can read more agritech articles we have written here.
Credits for prominent paintings: Nazrul, Iskandar and Hadi, co-founders of the Captaincy