Learnings from Elevarm’s efforts to develop seedlings and fertilizer that are not only more accessible but also more productive

Elevarm farmers. Photo from Elevarm.

3 things we learned about the value of farming inputs innovation from Elevarm

Learnings from Elevarm’s efforts to develop seedlings and fertilizer that are not only more accessible but also more productive

It’s been more than a year since we partnered with Elevarm and since then we have learned a lot about Indonesian agriculture and smallholder farmers from their work, in particular their efforts to develop seedlings and fertilizer that are not only more accessible but also more productive, resulting in higher crop yields and therefore more income for the farmers they work with.

Their inputs business involves three layers: access (proprietary production), R&D innovation, and distribution.

(1) Elevarm owning production

While they host a variety of services for partner farmers, from advisory to financing, what has been a focus for the company’s growth and fundraising has been to scale their input production capacity to meet growing demand from smallholder farmers.

Access to quality seedlings and fertilizer remains exclusive to large enterprise farms, often leaving smallholder farmers with poorer quality seeds and soil, and consequently, lower quality yields.

Elevarm is investing in infrastructure to increase production capacity for high-quality seedlings as well as fertilizers, specifically their proprietary organic vermicompost, Vermicomplus — which we’ve seen firsthand make a difference in chili output.

Investing in this infrastructure allows Elevarm to make these inputs more accessible as well as target specific crops like chilies that are higher yield for the farmers they are serving.

(2) Elevarm innovating new forms of inputs

The commercial success of Vermicomplus, their flagship proprietary organic fertilizer, the company is also investing in an in-house R&D engine to develop new inputs for improving biodiversity, soil health, and ecosystem resilience. They aim to introduce 15 new organic products this year, including biostimulants, fertilisers, solutions for plant and bio pesticides.

On the innovation front, they are also not alone — they actively collaborate with research institutions and strategic partners to engineer affordable horticulture solutions tailored to local challenges.

(3) Elevarm closing the loop on distribution

Developing quality and accessible seedlings and fertilizer can only go so far if there is no avenue for Elevarm to get farmers to use them and reap the benefits from better inputs.

This is where their ecosystem approach comes in, as CTO and co-founder Febi Agil Ifdillah and CPO Bayu Adi Persada have spoken about on our podcast.

They create clusters of farmers across the country with agripoints as distribution centers for these inputs. They also use these center stores facilitate crop sales (which have used these inputs), closing the loop on increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers.

As of today, they have a growing base of over 13,000 agricultural partners and more than 5,000 active farmers as customers, servicing over 400 hectares of farmland  facilitating crop sales of up to 1,000 tonnes monthly.

“We see incredible value in uplifting our local smallholder farmers, the backbone that makes up half of Indonesia’s entire farming industry. Our mission is to democratise access to farming essentials that not only boost crop yields for them, but contribute to the circular economy in the long run, through our proprietary research, technology, and solutions,” said Bayu Syerli Rachmat, co-founder and CEO of Elevarm.

Insights from Elevarm’s official seed fundraising announcement as covered on Business Times, e27, and TechNode Global.

Read more about Elevarm’s progress in their latest Impact Report.

Key Impact Report highlights

  • Increased productivity up to 50% of yields from 1.6 to 2.4 tons annually
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 43% compared to last year, from 467.52 tCO2e in 2022 to 266.31 tCO2e in 2023
  • Reduced numbers of farmers below the poverty line by 19%, from 54% in 2022 to 35% in 2023.
  • Increased women farmers threefold with its rate has grown 30% from 9% to 11.7%.
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Paulo Joquiño is a writer and content producer for tech companies, and co-author of the book Navigating ASEANnovation. He is currently Editor of Insignia Business Review, the official publication of Insignia Ventures Partners, and senior content strategist for the venture capital firm, where he started right after graduation. As a university student, he took up multiple work opportunities in content and marketing for startups in Asia. These included interning as an associate at G3 Partners, a Seoul-based marketing agency for tech startups, running tech community engagements at coworking space and business community, ASPACE Philippines, and interning at workspace marketplace FlySpaces. He graduated with a BS Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University in 2019.