24-year-old built agtech startup delivering fresh produce to Singaporeans

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the panic buying phenomenon had highlighted the need for long-term food security in Singapore. As such, the Singapore government aims to produce 30 percent of the country’s nutritional needs by 2030, as a buffer from supply disruptions.

This resulted in the emergence of more small farms in Singapore — out of 77 local leafy vegetable farms in 2019, 25 were indoor, and two were rooftop farms. 

The 24-year-old founder and CEO of Urban Tiller, Jolene Lum, left her corporate job in February 2020. She joined an education technology startup where she worked on food and agriculture in Singapore and started building a network in the industry. There, she explored the history and landscape of local farming and hoped to eventually cultivate a new part of it.

Jolene then explored the idea of food security with the concept of nutritional security. Through research, the Urban Tiller team found that leafy greens like baby spinach would lose up to 90 percent of nutritional value just 24 hours from harvest. Therefore, Urban Tiller set out to make nutritious crops accessible, and provide city dwellers with on-demand freshness. They went on to create a new business model for local smallholder farmers running small to mid-sized farms, since traditional supply chains in urban supermarkets might not work for them.

Costs of loss and wastage are eventually transferred to consumers, giving rise to the conversation of proper demand aggregation — or matching demand and supply for farmers to grow what Singaporeans need. Through Urban Tiller’s more viable go-to-market strategy, local farmers can also receive financial security with stable offtakes that they can meet. Likewise, customers can also receive the freshest farm-to-table experience before nutrient degradation takes place.

On a whole, this structured value adds to the supply chain since farm produce is handled with care, and farmers and consumers alike can enjoy maximized quality.

Read the complete article at www.newsakmi.com.

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