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FarmLinkr – bringing consumers closer to local farmers

The novel coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted Jamaica’s agricultural sector.

The sudden shutdown of the tourism industry in March left thousands of pounds of produce with no market.

The loss of sales from those crops made it difficult for several farmers to replant, this was followed by severe drought throughout the summer. Plus, there was continuous rainfall for several weeks making recovery by this vital sector slow, causing an extended scarcity of several crops.

Like other major planks of the country’s economy, the agricultural sector must develop robust measures to cushion the effects of the virus.

Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of FarmLinkr Shelly Heaven says her organisation is one of the entities focused on transforming the agriculture sector with the hope of safeguarding Jamaica’s national and economic development and post-pandemic recovery.

“FarmLinkr began its operations in 2017 as an online marketplace that is on a mission to revolutionise the agricultural sector through the use of technology.

“We link together farmers and fresh produce resellers with wholesale buyers, bridging the market information asymmetry gap, via the sale of fresh farm produce both locally and internationally,” Heaven said in an interview with this publication.

Heaven said that FarmLinkr’s platform provides a safe and secure environment for vendors and shoppers to conduct their business.

“With fewer local markets available to farmers, due to the closure of the tourism industry, it is important now more than ever to increase the efficiency of our food distribution and supply chains.

”Our online platform provides the opportunity to significantly assist in this area,” the young entrepreneur said in her interview.

 

HOW IT WORKS

Heaven explained, “FarmLinkr provides farmers with the opportunity to create a free online store to list their first produce for sale, free of cost, in a matter of minutes. The platform provides all the necessary tools to effectively manage an online store. Farmers are therefore provided with much-needed visibility to market their produce to a wider audience both locally and internationally. Buyers can pay with any international Visa or Mastercard and farmers receive funds from sales in their local bank accounts. Services such as ours are invaluable under our new normal, where avoiding unnecessary contact is advised. The convenience of our service is also vital to both shoppers and sellers as a well-needed time saver, a scarce resource for many people.”

 

RESILIENCE UNDER COVID-19

Heaven advised that since starting in 2017, “the company has since pivoted and now also offers contractual farming agreements with large buyers such as hotels, exporters, restaurants, supermarkets and processors. Buyers are invited to identify their produce quantity and frequency needs, which are then grown by the company’s trusted network of farmers. Where there are no contracts in place, FarmLinkr can provide buyers with a fresh supply of produce based on availability. With the reduced local demand due to COVID, the company has now increased focus on exporters and export markets”.

According to Heaven, “agriculture is a ‘sleeping gold mine’. We need to awaken it and unlock the benefits for Jamaica’s national and economic growth and development, and in so doing, also transform the lives of our farmers”.

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