Farmers app aims to reap rewards
THE CREATOR of Folkrice, an online trading platform designed to help farmers sell perishable products to customers directly, aims to be earning Bt24 million per year in fees within five years.
Anukool Saibejra said he decided to return to his home province of Surin province several years ago after graduating with a social- science degree in international disciplinary studies from Thammasat University. There he began to grow rice on his 10-rai (1.6-hectare) farm in his hometown.
Every year, he spent four months growing rice and six months doing market research. At the same time, he started working and building a network with farmers by providing them with agricultural knowledge, food-processing skills and business-management abilities, while also selling rice to some friends online.
Eventually, he became aware that many of the farmers he was working with were having difficulty selling perishable products. To meet this challenge, he founded Folkrice Co Ltd early this year after securing more than 1,000 farmers nationwide in his network.
The company, of which he is chief executive officer, then created an online application called Folkrice as a venue where farmers can sell their products to customers directly.
“Farmers, especially small organic farmers, can use the application as a marketplace,” he explained. “We aim to help them grow sustainably, having their own shops and reaching customers widely.”
The 1,000 farmers in the Folkrice network have been placed in four main categories that best fit their products with suitable markets.
The “folk and travel” category is suitable for farms with a travel theme, “folk and restaurant” is for food retailing, “folk and green” is for organic shops, and “folk marketplace” is for general online trading.
Each farmer considers what his or her focus is before joining.
Anukool said many members in the Northeastern region produced rice, as well as vegetables from Nakhon Ratchasima’s Wang Nam Kheow district, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom, fish from the Southern region, and eggs from Nakhon Ratchasima and Chanthaburi.
When farmers are approved for membership in Folkrice, they can place photos and stories about their products on the app, and purchasing conditions.
Anukool said his business had secured deals with five luxury hotels in Phuket and Krabi provinces. “I will soon meet with more clients for further deals,” he added.
In his sights are 20 schools and 20 health-conscious restaurants in Bangkok, associations for senior citizens and retired people, exporters, and more high-end hotels. “The international market is a big opportunity after receiving some orders at the ‘Slow Food’ exhibition in Italy in September,” he said.
Anukool said his app could help farmer sell their products at much lower prices than at modern trade outlets such as supermarkets.
The company charges fees of 10 per cent of purchase value. Currently, it is earning about Bt100,000 per month.
“My aim is to have a million farmers in the application network. The revenue target is Bt2 million per month or Bt24 million a year within five years,” he said.