Ucrop.it, an Argentina-based agtech company that tracks farmers’ sustainable practices on its a blockchain-enabled platform, announced the close of a pre-series A funding round of $3.1 million. This deal was led by Yugen Partners in New York and existing investor, The Yield Lab LATAM. Closed Loop Partners, which participated in ucrop.it’s $1.1 million seed round last year, also joined this round.
New investors backing the startup include Harris Investment Group, Glocal and several family offices.
Ucrop.it will use the funding for regional expansion, building new value-chain alliances, and platform upgrades.
How it works
Farming is undergoing a major transformation worldwide, with growing consideration and adoption of more sustainable practices that support climate change mitigation and adaptation. Ucrop.it’s platform tracks farmers’ adoption of more sustainable farming techniques and connects them to downstream buyers interested in sustainably-grown products.
The company produces what it calls “crop stories” for farmers, which are blockchain-recorded data and information that traces the farmers’ sustainable practices.
“We help farmers and agro-processors engage in mutual agreements and trace specific sustainability protocols to generate verified information to create crop stories, which farmers can use to impact [their] businesses,” Diego Hoter, ucrop.it’s co-founder and CEO, told AFN.
It starts with farmers registering on ucrop.it’s free platform, which enables them to blockchain-record registries all of their farm activities. Farmers can use the platform to negotiate with agro-processors and buyers for their harvests. Once farmers have an agreement, ucrop.it’s platform logs the farmers’ activities to demonstrate alignment with the buyers’ sustainability requirements. These “crop stories” can then be shared with as many buyers as farmers want.
“We want each farmer to succeed in converting sustainability efforts into enhanced profitability,” said Hoter.
Ucrop.it’s platform tracks a number of metrics that buyers are commonly interested in: energy use, fertilizer use (to track responsible use of chemicals), crop residue management, and carbon intensity of farmers’ crop cycle management process.
Ucrop.it is working to help farmers leverage their sustainability performance to access credit.
“We’re running verification schemes, which will help finance growers at a lower cost of capital,” explained Hoter.
What they’re saying
Ucrop.it, which Hoter founded in 2018 with Marcos Botta and Matías O’Keefe, has onboarded 20 corporates and more than 700 growers. Multinational clients include companies such as Cargill, BASF, Surcos, Valent, Gensus and Don Mario.
The company says it has mapped and traced one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of sustainable crops in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay this crop season. It expects to cover five million hectares (12.4 million acres) next season, after expanding operations into Brazil and the US.
The company generates revenue from fees charged to corporate buyers. Prices are set regionally: users in the US pay more than their LatAm counterparts.
“We want to be the first platform that enables farmers and companies to agree on how to differentiate conventional crops from climate-smart-verified crops,” Hoter said.
Its latest round of funding signals “increasingly more global institutional investors that want to join us in the sustainable transformation of large-scale agriculture,” he added. “It is important to continue building strategic alliances with key actors within the agricultural value chain, who seek to boost the construction of a more sustainable farming ecosystem.”
“ucrop.it is a company that has built a strong case in adding value using blockchain to solve for the differentiation beneath conventional commodity crops and climate-smart ones in an efficient, decentralized, digital and scalable way,” said Scott Stornetta, partner at Yugen Partners.
Tomás Peña, partner and managing director of The Yield Lab LATAM, added that ucrop.it’s “team, dedication, and energy have positioned them as a groundbreaking company that always raises the bar, and we want to be part of the revolution they are leading.”