An App, Avocados, and the Future of Ag
I have to admit, I have been thinking a lot about avocados lately.
Back in May of this year, millennial social media went wild over real estate mogul Tim Gurner’s assertion that avocados and the lifestyle they represent explain low millennial home ownership rates. “When I was trying to buy my first home,” he mused, “I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each.” His comment – and the subsequent backlash on social media – not only showed a disconnect between older generations and millennials, but also the cultural significance of this superfruit. Some 1.9 billion pounds were consumed in 2014 in the US alone– double the amount in 2005 – and it’s all part of a global phenomenon. Avocados are big business.
But avocados have a special resonance for me. For the past year, I have been working with the team at AMGlobal Consulting on Agromovil, a simple-to-use app platform that combines on-demand transport, mobile banking, and microinsurance. The goal is to help farmers and transporters around the developing world get more and fresher produce to market.
At the heart of the Agromovil vision is to reduce post-harvest loss for fruits and vegetables — estimated annually at $150 billion in the developing world. That means improved incomes for rural communities, more jobs, and ultimately, more avocados.
In early 2018, we will be testing Agromovil in Colombia working with coops and market makers. It will be a historic moment for the country because Colombia is exporting Hass avocados to the US for the first time. This is after $189 million in investment and years in the USDA approval process. Plus the timing is right, especially with prices set to reach record highs after droughts in California and increasing global demand.
As for testing Agromovil, avocados are the perfect crop. They have a short farm-to-market window, meaning small farmers can lose a 15-20% freshness premium if they can’t get their products to a processor in time. This is especially important since the sector is still decentralized, with many small producers.
Today a team of agronomists are in the field, helping us understand – down to the smallest detail – the ins and outs of transport, insurance, and other aspects of the production process as well as introducing the team to potential partners.
Next week we will begin working with our developer team at Carnegie Mellon University, who will help us build the MVP that we hope will change the future of agriculture. We have big plans and a big vision!