The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, defines food security as being achieved when “all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their food preference and dietary requirements for an active and healthy life.”
The world is currently struggling to cope with the devastating effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). One of the many impacts has been on our food supply chain systems, raising many questions around the issue of adequate food security in many countries. This discussion has also been vibrant in Jamaica as we’ve moved from a glut of produce in March when hotels suddenly shut down, to now a dramatic scarcity following significant damage to farms from recent heavy rains. The Government has therefore stated a renewed commitment to agriculture and the development of this sector, in an effort to boost the country’s food security.
In the midst of all these events, entities such as FarmLinkr Limited are committed to providing local farmers with the opportunity to capitalize on the increased local and international demand from Jamaica, brought about by the disruption in food supply chains elsewhere.
Founder and CEO of FarmLinkr Limited, Shelly Heaven advised that “FarmLinkr began its operations in 2017 as an online marketplace connecting farmers and fresh produce resellers to wholesale buyers through the sale of fresh produce. Today, the marketplace facilitates transactions for both wholesale as well as retail sellers and buyers. The company also does direct sales with corporate buyers such as hotels, exporters, and supermarkets, working with farmers to expand their market access across multiple channels.
How It Works
Farmers are provided with the tools they need to bring their produce to market to a large audience both locally and internationally. Heaven explained that “ FarmLinkr provides farmers the opportunity to create a free online store on their website at www.farmlinkr.com and list their first produce for sale free of cost. Buyers can enjoy the advantage of shopping online with an International Visa, Mastercard. Once the delivery to the customer is confirmed, the funds are sent directly to the local bank accounts of our farmers.”
Heaven further added, “There is no doubt that crises work in tandem with agility and innovation. Therefore in the midst of the anxiety of Covid-19 there are numerous opportunities for entities such as FarmLinkr to make a difference.” She went on to state that, “With the new normal we are encouraged by stakeholders to limit or completely avoid unnecessary contact, for this reason we believe our service is invaluable during this period of uncertainty.”
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, FarmLinkr remains committed to its mandate to provide buyers with a wide range of fresh produce of the highest quality, via a secure platform for making purchases. Shoppers can expect a smooth online transaction process, comparable to international marketplaces and an overall pleasant buying experience.
Heaven noted that, “ since our inception in 2017, we have further streamlined our operations now offering contractual farming agreements for large buyers such as hotels, exporters, supermarkets, restaurants and processors. Buyers are encouraged to identify their produce quantity and frequency, which are subsequently grown by the company’s trusted network of farmers.” Prior to COVID-19, the company’s main focus was on supplying the hotels. Given the current reduced economic activity in Tourism, they have shifted their attention to exports, local supermarkets and online operations.
Heaven stated that, “contractual arrangements are key for the development and transformation of the agricultural sector. These types of agreements will bring about greater consistency in the supply of produce and reduce the fluctuations in prices.” She’s encouraging buyers to take the step into this direction, as the farmers are ready and waiting to work with them. Heaven further stated “that in instances where contracts are non-existent, FarmLinkr will provide supply of specific crops based on availability.”
It is evident that the local agricultural sector has the potential to boost Jamaica’s economy and contribute tremendously to national development, all whilst impacting the lives of farmers and workers who continue to make a significant impact on our food systems.