Growing up around Asia, in particular Indonesia and India, Paget Hargreaves, CEO of AgriUT, witnessed firsthand the hardships faced by farmers in the last mile. “One of the things that stuck in my mind is seeing smiling children on their way to school, coming out of impoverished living conditions in crisp, pressed white outfits. They are such beautiful people with so much pride and hope, they deserve any assistance we can provide” says Paget.
An early career in banking and property left Paget seeking to achieve more than just adhering to the old school of ‘profit economics. The corporate world did not satisfy his passion for fairness and the fair distribution of wealth and health. This helped Paget build the resolve to work harder at creating something that can substantially move the dial in developing countries.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set up by the United Nations in 2015 as a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all" and were intended to be achieved by 2030.
If you think back to your own childhood, the world was fighting poverty then and still is today. There is in fact a $2.4Tn annual gap in achieving these goals. “Poverty is still the number one challenge. “With the onset of covid, this gap will only increase as Governments globally look to redirect resources and rebuild their own economies. This means that as a global community we are not on track to solving these problems. Sure, many of us think about it, but how many are actually making real world changes?” Paget asks.
According to Paget, a scale of magnitude is needed to solve these problems and AgUnity/AgriUT offer a robust ecosystem to make this happen. “During my years in business, as a director of Sundrop Farms (Australia) and more recently for Asterion Cannabis, I have seen the difference technology can make to agribusiness. It is the most efficient way to scale up. My focus is not growing tomatoes or cannabis per se, but rather enabling these projects to happen; both projects were global firsts in terms of alternative thinking and taking what we had and scaling it up. It is my firm belief that simple things which make a difference is often overlooked by the narrow-minded economics of governments and large corporates. But this time, we can’t afford for this to be the case.”
Paget confirms the AgUnity vision aligns with many of his own values and was he pleased to meet David Davies, AgUnity founder, and the great team behind him. AgriUT is about social impact with the ultimate goal of reaching the 1.9 billion farmers in the last mile who have been ignored by the world for the last 30 years. AgriUT is connecting the consumer directly with these farmers to make a real difference to the everyday existence of people in that last mile.
“We have a number of levers we can pull to make the redistribution of wealth happen while addressing pressing SDGs at the same time. Through technology, smart phones, blockchain and utility tokens, AgUnity and AgriUT have the tools which can create an elegant and sustainable solution, not only for the farmers but also for ourselves, in addressing the global problems we need to solve” says Paget. “AgriUT rewards go directly to the farmers for the purpose intended by the donor - whether that be to alleviate poverty, plant trees, help woman empowerment or encourage sustainable farming”.
“Today there is a shift with corporations now addressing real ESG principles and adopting their own CSR programmes, so we have the wind behind us in this regard. These corporations need to show ethical behaviour not just to their shareholders but their stakeholders as well. Similarly with consumers, there is a real desire now to help those less fortunate, who invariably are in developing countries. The consumer is looking for provenance and traceability on their products and foods and want to know that they have been ethically sourced. Consumers are evolving and making it clear that ethical behaviour is expected from brands who wish to keep their shelf space” says Paget.
AgriUT is working with several consortium partners who are genuine in their approach to being ethical and providing true value CSR. “We help partners work out how we can fit into their supply chain and how it adds to their value proposition. Once they begin to see how AgriUT can work for them, the next step is that they start getting involved in buying bundles and scaling up in the programme and ecosystem” explains Paget.
The current partner focus is especially on cocoa and coffee companies, but it can essentially work for any produce.
“We have a symbiotic relationship with farmers in the last mile - they need us and we, the world, need them. Let’s create real social impact and secure the future of our food supply chain” concludes Paget.