“I knew I wouldn’t own a farm where I could raise my own cattle,” says Albertus Potgieter, the founder of BitFarming. “The idea of crowd farming came to me and I had a ‘eureka’ moment. We got to work to develop the concept and have created what we believe is a unique and necessary mechanism for anyone to become active in livestock trade without having to establish their own farms.”
BitFarmer is a new term coined by the company. It refers to any member of the public who opts to own and trade livestock – regardless of herd size – without having to obtain the resources to facilitate a physical transaction. BitFarming is also an opportunity for the landless to own cattle.
“Crowd farming allows the normal city slicker to look at an alternative investment opportunity in the form of owning a ‘bit-of-a-farm,’ or, simply, BitFarming,” adds Potgieter.
BitFarming is a hands-off approach
BitFarming has refined the overall process of buying and selling cattle so that any member of the public can utilise its services. Consumers can visit the BitFarming website, accept the terms and conditions, and then appoint BitFarming as their administrator. The company handles the actual buying, maintaining, and reselling of livestock on behalf of the consumer.
“We only purchase livestock from reputable producers at auction, and only from those who have implemented best practices,” says Potgieter. “All livestock are purchased at a predetermined weight to ensure the customer always has the best deal possible.”
After the livestock has been purchased, it is transported to a pre-approved and vetted feedlot. It is here that the livestock will be put through a dedicated feeding programme that lasts around four months.
BitFarming incorporates a programme that has been tried and tested over the past three decades. The feeding programme ensures livestock reach their optimal weight and the meat is of the highest quality, which will allow them to reach the maximum price when resold to abattoirs. Each cycle takes a minimum period of four months and yields a 10% profit for investors, who are encouraged to reinvest for three cycles to increase their return to 30% over a one-year period.
Simple and cost-effective livestock trading
According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa has a well-developed cattle farming industry with around 13 million cattle across commercial, informal, subsistence and smallholder farms. The industry is a major employer, with an estimated 2.125 million people dependent on the livestock industry for their livelihoods.
The price of livestock constantly fluctuates and is dependent on economic and market conditions. However, the price from BitFarming will always include transport fees from the auction to the feedlot and then to the abattoir. The company also covers the maintenance, feeding, and insurance of the livestock over the entire cultivation period.
“City clickers are tech-savvy and we brought in various tech-friendly components to keep our community of BitFarmers engaged on the growth of their livestock,” says Potgieter. “We also partnered with My-iMali as the back-end payment and e-wallet platform to ensure safe and convenient payments for each BitFarmer. Our partnership with My-iMali ensures that BitFarming is compliant with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) with reference to processes surrounding Know Your Customer (KYC).”
More growth on the cards
BitFarming is already planning its expansion. The company is in the process of vetting more producers to add poultry, sheep, and other livestock to its offering. This expansion will allow BitFarmers greater opportunities to play in the livestock market, apart from just cattle.
The company also aims to add an online meat market, where it will sell A-grade meat at wholesale prices to the consumer, though this aspect is still in the planning stages.
The BitFarming app is developed and supported by the Foundation for Sustainable Innovation (Pty) Ltd, a Certified Microsoft Partner.