New app gives grain farm­ers an edge to hedge

Af­ter work­ing in the agri­cul­tural trad­ing busi­ness as an op­tion writer, An­dries D’Ale­bout found that grain farm­ers had lim­ited op­tions when mak­ing hedg­ing de­ci­sions as ac­cess to Safex mar­ket up­dates were de­layed and lim­ited. With a Master’s de­gree in math

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF - BY LAMEEZ OMARJEE

Com­bin­ing h i s l ov e f or math­e­mat­ics and agri­cul­ture, for­mer op­tion writer An­dries D’Ale­bout, cre­ated a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion to pro­vide grain farm­ers with real-time Safex mar­ket up­dates.

A de­lay in com­mu­ni­cat­ing mar­ket data to farm­ers prompted D’Ale­bout, the “Zucker­berg” of agri­cul­ture ser­vice provider Dalevest, and his team of six to de­velop the ap­pli­ca­tion. Hav­ing grown up on a farm, he no­ticed how his fa­ther’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing was im­pacted by the lim­ited mar­ket in­for­ma­tion avail­able. “I started this with­out know­ing if it would go any­where be­sides help­ing my fa­ther a lit­tle bit,” D’Ale­bout told Fin­week.

The free ap­pli­ca­tion is a first-ever for the in­dus­try in South Africa. It has grown through word-of-mouth and so­cial media, boast­ing 2 500 users across the coun­try since its launch at the be­gin­ning of the year

he appl i c at i on s e r v e s a s a n in­for­ma­tion hub that pro­vides grain farm­ers with JSE prices for maize, soya beans, sun­flower and wheat. Two daily re­ports are re­leased at 8am and af­ter 12pm. Graphs and in­for­ma­tion about com­modi­ties, with tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis, are also pro­vided. A chat func­tion is avail­able for grain farm­ers to en­gage with each other, ask ques­tions and share in­for­ma­tion, ex­plains D’Ale­bout.

Dalevest also of­fers a grain trad­ing plat­form. Farm­ers can send in­for­ma­tion about their grain to ap­prox­i­mately 14 trad­ing houses part­nered with Dalevest. The farmer is then part­nered up with the trad­ing house that of­fers the best price for their grain. “We are sort of a con­nec­tion hub too,” says D’Ale­bout.

The mar­ket in­for­ma­tion is sourced from an in-house Reuters ter­mi­nal, dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies in the US and t he Chicago Board of Trade, says D’Ale­bout. A lot of the in­for­ma­tion is also supplied by lo­cal farm­ers, mak­ing the mar­ket more trans­par­ent and ac­ces­si­ble for stake­hold­ers.

Pro­gram­ming for the ap­pli­ca­tion sta r ted over a year ago, but t he de­vel­op­ment process is con­tin­u­ous. Fol­low­ing the Face­book model, D’Ale­bout says up­dates on the app are in­tro­duced ev­ery month and a new fea­ture, a profit mon­i­tor­ing tool, is be­ing built. One of the re­cent tech­ni­cal is­sues was deal­ing with the large.vol­umes of users, es­pe­cially be­tweenT 9am and 12pm when 1 500 users ac­cess the ap­pli­ca­tion to check prices, he says. It took a month’s worth of pro­gram­ming to iron out.

Founder of Dalevest

Dalevest has re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back f rom users so far. “The process by which they [farm­ers] make de­ci­sions has changed dras­ti­cally,” says D’Ale­bout. Although many farm­ers aren’t open to work­ing with tech­nol­ogy, D’Ale­bout says Dalevest’s pres­ence on so­cial media has con­nected them di­rectly with farm­ers al­ready us­ing tech­nol­ogy. The ap­pli­ca­tion is freely avail­able for down­load from Ap­ple’s App Store and Google Play Store for An­droid. Cur­rently, most of the rev­enue is gen­er­ated from advertising, says D’Ale­bout. Busi­nesses have ap­proached Dalevest to part­ner and in­cor­po­rate ideas and prod­ucts with the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Dalevest will be host­ing a Grain Farmer of the Year com­pe­ti­tion, which will be launched on 1 Oc­to­ber. By in­cor­po­rat­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, the farmer with the best yield and the Safex price the grain was hedged by will be awarded the win­ning prize of R500 000 in Au­gust 2016.

By mak­ing the mar­ket more trans­par­ent to farm­ers, D’Ale­bout plans for Dalevest to be the num­ber-one in­for­ma­tion hub and com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel for farm­ers.

“I started this com­pany with the idea to help the farm­ers in South Africa … we def­i­nitely want to be a big force in the South African agri­cul­tural mar­ket,” he says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.