Tokyo, April 5, 2017- Rakuten, Inc. and Telefarm Co., Ltd. today announced the launch of “Ragri,” an internet-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) service that connects consumers with producers of pesticide-free, pesticide-reduced and other agricultural produce.
CSA is a new framework for agriculture in which producers plant crops based on pre-paid orders placed by consumers for specific produce, thereby facilitating planned production and revenue stabilization. In general, agriculture is greatly affected by the timing and quantities of harvests, price trends and external factors such as the weather. With CSA, the sale and purchase agreements are concluded once consumers’ consent regarding such risks has been obtained.
Ragri is based on the Telefarm Remote Farming service that was operated by Telefarm, in which Rakuten announced it had invested in June 2016. The two companies have collaborated to significantly overhaul the Ragri website and service.
Much of the agricultural produce provided through Ragri places particular emphasis on being pesticide-free or pesticide-reduced, or otherwise organic or specially cultivated produce. Users select the produce and producer from which they want to order, and await the harvest while remotely managing the cultivation of the produce from seed or seedling in virtual fields online. Users are able to check up on how the cultivation of the actual produce is progressing through photographs and comments sent by the producers. Once the produce has reached harvest, it is delivered directly from the farms to the locations designated by the users.
Users will be able to use Ragri via Ragri’s PC and smartphone websites by logging in with their Rakuten membership IDs, and will therefore also be able to use their Rakuten membership IDs to pay their Ragri fees via the Rakuten Pay payment service, meaning it will also be possible to earn and use Rakuten Super Points. Furthermore, in cases where typhoons or other natural disasters make it impossible to carry out the harvest, or in cases where the minimum crop yield set for each crop is not reached, users will be granted Rakuten Super Points with a value equivalent to the cultivation fees paid*1. Rakuten and Telefarm are also exploring enhancements to Ragri’s services in the future such as adding a feature enabling users to communicate with producers, and introducing plans for combining a large number of different vegetable items in small quantities.
In addition to providing a platform connecting consumers and producers, Ragri will also support new farmers. Telefarm has already begun recruiting and training new farmers in Ehime Prefecture, and plans to roll out the program nationwide in the future. Alongside promoting CSA through Ragri, Rakuten and Telefarm are also proactively promoting new agriculture and contributing to resolving challenges such as labor shortages and the growing amount of deserted arable land.
*1 Excludes the seed / seedling fee