AgriNurture Inc., a listed agribusiness company owned by businessman Antonio Tiu, is in talks with a prospective Asian partner that will invest an initial $100 million (P5 billion) for a new micro-finance program to boost the productivity of farmers nationwide.
Tiu, ANI president and chief executive said in a recent interview the $100-million equity infusion would serve as initial seed money for the company’s planned launching of Agri Token ecosystem.
Tiu said farmers could use the tokens to buy from accredited merchants everything they need to produce crops. They can easily tap the credit using their smart phones upon accreditation.
This is better than lending cash which may otherwise be used for non-farm purposes, Tiu said.
“With the token system, you can buy from accredited merchants. You can buy for example hybrid seeds and fertilizers you need to produce high quality rice,” Tiu said.
He clarified Agri tokens were not virtual currency and the program would not be taking investments from the public and, instead, be funding farmers’ productivity costs.
“My limitation right now is that I can sell more bananas, mango and coconut to the world but I cannot have enough. So this is what I am trying to achieve, to make sure we have inclusive growth. I have to include my downstream, I have to include the farmers so I need to boost their productivity,” he said.
ANI plans to launch the Agri Token ecosystem within the next two months, with the initial implementation in Luzon and Mindanao and focused on two crops like rice and banana.
If the program succeeds, ANI will cover the rest of the country and add more crops in the coverage of the program.
“What we really want to achieve right now is transformation in technology. I want to make agriculture sexy so you can inspire the millennials,” he said.
A major exporter of fruits to the world market, ANI supplies home-grown fruits such as mango, banana and pineapple, to customers in Hong Kong, China, the Middle East, and to different European regions.
It recently added rice to its portfolio. It would soon import rice from Vietnam in line with the government’s rice importation program.