How Better Data Will Drive Down Costly Credit Rates and Unlock More Growth for Brazil’s Farmers
By Fakhul Miah, CEO of CreDA (Credit Data Alliance)
Originally published in The AgroPlanning (Diário Agrícola) in Portuguese.
It’s no secret that Brazil’s agricultural sector has a well-deserved reputation for innovation-led growth. Powered by investment in new technologies and advanced scientific techniques, the industry now accounts for around a quarter of the country’s GDP, and provides 16% of total global food and agricultural exports — just behind the United States and the European Union — as the third-largest agricultural exporter in the world.
A recent report by AgriBrasilis described so aptly how Brazil’s ‘pioneering spirit and scientific competence in tropical agriculture; together with the strengthening of the Brazilian agricultural innovation ecosystem based on the structure to foster entrepreneurship and institutional support from government sectors’ has led to its agrotech/agtech industry being the sixth largest national market for Venture Capitalists investing in agrotech/agtech.
There is, however, one area where farmers have so far been overlooked by the latest technological advances, and that is in achieving the competitive credit rates they need in order to keep growing their businesses and reinvesting in this pioneering industry. In fact, according to Brazil’s IEA (Instituto de Economia Agrícola) the cost of credit for the agricultural sector is set to rise by as much as two-thirds (67.7%) compared to last year, and this is from the Government’s own programmes! The country’s farmers buying from the open market will probably see interest rates three times higher than this.
Unfortunately, while markets can be a problem, it is often bad data that is letting farmers down. Due to a lack of accurate, reliable, timely data to support their credit applications, thousands of viable, profitable farms are forced to pay two or even three times the base rate. Simply put, better data would mean more accurate applications, lower risk and lower rates, unlocking even more growth for farmers.
But better data is on the way, and we want to show how it will benefit more than just farmers’ credit ratings, but also stimulate a virtuous circle of transparency and accuracy, autonomy and accountability, all of which will lead to a better future for Brazil’s farmers, their customers and investors alike.
As credit ratings specialists, we’re excited about our new partnership with data capture and analysis specialists for the agricultural sector, Ager Solution. Together we are keen to start offering better data to Brazil’s farmers, and a simple way to both access and then incorporate real-time, highly accurate data into an affordable credit programme.
We have all seen many times the same pattern over the past two decades in Brazilian agrotech/agtech: technology applied to the environment under the husbandry of knowledgeable farmers holds the key to growth. And now, better data capture technology holds the key to delivering more affordable credit to thousands of farmers who are looking to grow their own business.
The technology is now here, and it’s just a question of application. For example, modern, Web3 technology will allow for the extraction, analysis and incorporation of multiple and alternative data sources including, but not limited to, local land registries, financial and business histories, crop pricing, soil quality and, even, climate contingencies — all of which can support new credit rating models with much more accurate and timely data than farmers are currently using.
Data extraction will change too. A company such as Ager Solutions is able to employ multiple remote sensing technologies — including state of the art drones — to track and extract data points in highly sensitive and changeable areas such as soil quality and meteorological conditions.
And through the use of new blockchain technology such as decentralised identifiers (DID) we are able to create distinct and immutable identities both for the land and the farmer which will be validated and connected through land registry data on the Sicar database (Cadastro Ambiental Rural), Brazil’s rural land registry, as well as ensuring full privacy and transparency for farmers. In short, farmers will be able to measure and track the real time status of their land, as well as see their potential credit rating, all of which will be derived from the same transparent and easy-to-understand data.
Unlike in the past, it will be the farmers themselves that control and own the data, and the way we can now collect reactive and sensitive data will also show them how their farming practices (including the use of this data) is affecting the cost of their credit.
Not only will this approach create more market value for Brazil’s land, and now only will it also help farmers access more affordable credit, but we believe it has the potential to provide more integrity for ecological and environmentally friendly farming approaches as a whole, thereby benefiting the wider ecosystem. Land which has been ecologically managed and maintained will create a higher market value than that which has not; and all supporting data will be logged and validated through the blockchain.
The result: a virtuous circle where all participants are incentivised and rewarded for their husbandry of the land, and where good practices are clear to see for all. The technology is now available to capture this better data and Brazil’s farmers continue to have more ownership and control over their own businesses which, in turn, will help them continue to advance Brazil’s world-leading agrotech/agtech economy. We believe that it’s high time to apply this technology, and help better data unlock new growth for Brazil’s farmers.