Established agribusiness value chains struggle with sustainable farming practices, which are often more costly and complex than conventional agricultural methods. But companies that prioritize sustainability need access to relevant information about suppliers’ practices to make informed sourcing decisions. And most procurement leaders have limited or no visibility beyond tier one suppliers.
A small Slovenian consultancy hopes to change that—by connecting sustainable African agribusinesses with European markets using an application built on Oracle Cloud.
Anteja, a women-led company with clients that include the World Bank and other development agencies , provides a solution that advocates for sustainable agribusinesses in developing regions. “What we try to do is use technology to make these companies visible,” says Mateja Dermastia, Anteja founder and CEO. “It sounds like a big, crazy idea, but through the years of experience we have, we have started producing tangible results.”
In recognition of this work, Anteja was named a 2022 winner of the Oracle Change Agent Sustainability Award.
A tough business
Sustainable farming is a business opportunity for East African agribusinesses and thousands of smallholder farmers they engage. But these businesses often struggle to find markets for their products.
For example, East Africa produces fruits and vegetables that are useful as foods and as ingredients in organic cosmetics and other products. These African “superfruits” include macadamia; shea, an African nut tree; coconuts; mango, avocado, and moringa, a tree whose seeds and leaves are used in traditional and herbal medicine. Additionally, farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda produce sustainable coffee.
Europe has strong demand for sustainable ingredients for foods and cosmetics, driven by consumer choice and regulatory requirements. The ingredients must be grown, processed and distributed using generally accepted sustainable methods. And agribusinesses must be able to prove sustainability by documenting practices end-to-end over the entire supply chain.
To address these problems, Anteja created phy2app, an application built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure that enables supply chain transparency, connecting African smallholder farmers with European markets.
“We help agribusinesses prepare the right information, with a system to organize and communicate it to the market through various channels—digital, or QR codes on product packaging and in marketing materials,” says Jon Goriup, Anteja’s head of digital solutions.
Market access has a direct impact on the financial well-being of the small sustainable farms and agribusinesses Anteja serves. For example, Pelere Group, a women-led Ugandan shea business, exported product internationally with Anteja’s help, increasing production 20% and refocusing from environmentally destructive practices--such as burning shea trees as fuel--to sustainable organic farming.
And Mara Agribusiness, a Ugandan coffee producer, acquired new customers and increased sales, building customer loyalty and developing new markets for more than 5,000 smallholder farmers—with a goal of creating 2,500 jobs for young farmers by 2025.
Beyond Market Access
Anteja also develops a solution for traceability that uses blockchain to create digital twins of products in the supply chain from the farmer to processing facilities, and the finished product. Every unit of nuts, fruit, or other agricultural product has a digital representation, describing how it was grown, harvested, processed, and shipped, and whether that work was done in a sustainable fashion. Those digital twins travel with the physical products from farm to consumer, and every step in between. The traceability solution is now in use with cooperatives of coffee farmers and processing facilities, with plans to expand to other products, such as macadamia.
The traceability capabilities of the Anteja application allows farmers, processors, distributors, and retailers to legally attest to the sustainability of products, giving African smallholder farmers access to European markets.
In addition to providing local support in Africa, Anteja can help strengthen global supply chains. Disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic and Ukraine war demonstrate the fragility of the trade and shipping networks connecting farmers, raw materials, manufacturing, and distributors with markets worldwide.
“We have to be on track to find new suppliers, and a new, more resilient value chain,” Dermastia says. “It’s not something we can postpone.”
Values meet technology
Anteja tapped Oracle because it shares Anteja’s commitment to sustainability, Goriup says. Oracle uses renewable energy, employs a circular supply model that relies on recycling, and provides climate—neutral sustainable solutions.
But choosing Oracle wasn’t just a matter of shared values—Oracle also provides outstanding infrastructure, scale, and global brand recognition. Oracle treated Anteja as a valuable partner, working closely with the company and providing excellent support, Dermastia says.
Additionally, Oracle has helped Anteja’s business. “From our side, it has opened several doors which were not open before. It’s a partnership that works for us,” she says.
Goriup agrees. “Oracle enabled us to find new business opportunities, and new business partners.”
For more information on Sustainability at Oracle, visit oracle.com/sustainability/.