Agro is digital: producers buy inputs online and encourage investments in ‘marketplaces’
The digitization of agribusiness, which began “within the gate” and brought innovations such as precision agriculture, pest control strategies and planting mapping with drones to the countryside, is now also advancing beyond the limits of rural properties. Investments in businesses that function as marketplaces focused on the sector are growing.
These are sales platforms similar to those used by virtual malls that are already consolidated in retail, but specialized in products and inputs for rural producers, such as seeds, fertilizers and tools. It is still possible to find credit and other services such as weather forecasting and crop management.
A survey by Distrito, a platform that gathers technology-based business data, shows that of the 296 start-ups in the agricultural sector — called agtechs — in the country, 35 are marketplaces.
Last year, they received an investment of US$ 27.6 million, the second largest amount in the niche, only behind start-ups that work with precision agriculture, which are 114 and total US$ 85.6 million in financial contributions. .
— There is an ocean of digital opportunities in agro. With specific marketplaces for the sector, small and medium-sized producers, even if they are in a more isolated region of the country, now have access to tools and services that they did not even know existed, and increase their productivity — says André Pimentel, partner at Performa Partners and management specialist.
Revenue almost quintuples
The most recent bid in this new market was made by the bank Itaú BBA, in early April, which made a proposal to become a partner in Orbia, one of the largest agro ecosystems in the country, which has as one of the founders the German giant Bayer. The bank has made an offer to keep 13% of the business, which is pending approval from regulatory authorities.
The transaction value was not revealed, but it shows the growing interest in this type of platform, which has presented robust numbers. Orbia’s sales, for example, jumped from BRL 200 million in 2019 to BRL 930 million in 2021. This year, they should reach BRL 3 billion.
Orbia was born as a loyalty program at Bayer, in partnership with Bravium, a technology and innovation company. When purchasing Bayer products, customers earn points and exchange for experiences such as travel and participation in events, for example. Since then, two other companies have become shareholders of Orbia: Yara Fertilizantes and now Itaú BBA.
As a result, the marketplace began to offer commodities and inputs. There are currently 190,000 rural producers registered on the platform, in addition to distributors and partners, who offer management services, pest mapping, weather reports and credit. Orbia has also established its flag in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, with the same business model.
— We are now present in the entire producer cycle. With the entry of Itaú BBA, if the operation is approved by the regulators, we will expand our ability to offer credit — says Ivan Moreno, president of Orbia.
Lavoro, a company in the agricultural input distribution sector that has Pátria Investimentos as a partner, is boosting its marketplace. It launched the tool in 2020, with Lavoro products, such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and sales soared during the pandemic, reaching R$ 170 million sold.
Of its 60,000 customers, almost 6,000 have already started using its virtual mall. With this growth potential, the expectation is that the billing will reach R$ 350 million until June this year. On Lavoro’s sales portal, the average value of purchases is R$10,000.
— Now we are going to add more partners to offer services such as insurance, production monitoring tools and satellite monitoring. In this next cycle, we will invest R$ 25 million in technology — says Ruy Cunha, president of Lavoro in Brazil, noting that the company has 190 stores across the country, where the customer also has face-to-face service.
bet in Brazil
Created in Argentina in 2015, Agrofy is present in eight Latin American countries, such as Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay, in addition to Argentina. In the region, the platform receives 5 million visits per month. It landed in Brazil in 2019 and has more than 4,000 stores in its digital catalog, with 41,000 products.
There are items such as sprayers, tractor parts, cattle scales and grain dryers, as well as services such as aerial recording by drones, weed detection, water drainage projects.
At the end of 2021, the start-up received US$ 30 million in investments for expansion in Brazil, one of the largest food producers in the world, which included spending on improving the system and implementing Agrofy Pay, a payment processing platform and credits.
— Brazil is a priority for the expansion of Agrofy —says commercial director Filipe Ruga.
Source: The Globe