By James A. Loyola
Listed agribusiness company AgriNurture, Inc. is tapping an Asian partner that would infuse $100 million (P5 billion) into the company that will be used for a new microfinance program for farmers nationwide.
In an interview, ANI President Antonio Tiu said the $100 million will serve as initial seed money for ANI’s planned Agri Token ecosystem, a move that is part of ANI’s transformation through technology.
Tiu said farmers can 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.
He said this is better than lending farmers cash which may otherwise be used for non-farm purposes.
“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 that the tokens are not virtual currency and the program would not be taking investments from the public but would 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 supply. 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 initial implementation in Luzon and Mindanao focused on two crops like rice and banana. If the program succeeds, ANI would cover the rest of the country and add more crops for coverage under the program.