eFishery is designed to help Indonesian fish and shrimp farmers maximize their feed business through automation. MELIYANA explains how the startup is building a community of farmers with access to modern feeding techniques and technology.
Looking for ways to raise efficiency and improve fish yields, Gibran Huzaifah realized that manual feeding was the main bottleneck for fish farmers.
“With manual feeding, a lot of the feed is wasted, and it pollutes the water. This gave me the idea to build a smart feeding system called eFisheryFeeder,” Mr Huzaifah, himself an Indonesian pangasius farmer, told Asian Feed Magazine.
eFisheryFeeder was the first device built by his startup, eFishery. It enables automated feeding for fish and shrimp, and it can be monitored and controlled via a smartphone. Farmers use it to manage feeding schedules by delivering doses of feed that suits their needs.
Each release of feed by the eFisheryFeeder is recorded automatically, allowing farmers to keep track of their daily expenses.
A sensor on the machine determines the appetite of the fish, so it knows when they are full and stops releasing pellets.
“With optimal feeding, it also helps speed up the rate of growth of the fish, so farmers can harvest faster,” he said.
On average, the harvest period can be reduced from six to four months. This leads to better productivity and increased annual income,” he said.
Then the startup launched a new product, eFisheryFeed, which connects farmers with manufacturers directly, so they can buy feed in larger quantities at a lower price. It also allows them to negotiate prices as a group and get better deals.
The service also offers a pay-later service through eFisheryFund, which helps farmers gain access to credit to grow their business.
“We receive data from the eFisheryFeeder app and we use that to assess the farmer’s credit. From the data, we can analyze their performance and note the farmers who are reliable,” Mr Huzaifah explained.
eFishery sets a credit limit of USD 5,800 for each farmer—much more than small business financing programs from the government that range from USD 1,700-2,700.
“We don’t provide cash loans, so we can ensure that farmers only use their credit to fund their business,” he added.
eFishery partners with a number of banks and peer-to-peer fintech lending platforms such as Alami and Investree to give fish farmers a financial lifeline.
Leading to yet another service development, the startup developed eFisheryFresh, an online platform to connect farmers with their customers.
“It lets farmers sell their fish directly to restaurants, hotels and other foodservice businesses. It allows fresh fish to be sourced directly from local farmers, gives them better prices and has their produce delivered directly to customers,” he said.
In addition, there are eFisheryPoints, which are hubs located close to farmers that allow them to access eFishery products, sell their produce and join training programs. To date, there are 50 of these, and there are plans for the number to double.
eFishery’s products support tens of thousands of fish and shrimp farmers in 24 provinces across Indonesia.
“eFisheryPoint allows us to engage with farmers more easily, increasing our reach in the domestic market further. We are aiming for a tenfold increase in our business,” he explained, adding that the service has been piloted in Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and India.
“We work with local partners in those markets to get data and see how people respond to our product. However, we’ll remain focused on Indonesia for the next two years before expanding regionally,” he added.
Moving forward, the company plans to increase its technological and service capabilities, especially in feed and funding.
“Currently, only 7% of farmers are using funding services, and we want to boost this so more will make transactions through our platforms,” he said.
Profitable and sustainable businesses
“Through the introduction of new technologies, we increase yields and lower the of cost of production of fish and shrimp. With products that support the entire aquaculture ecosystem, from ponds to last-mile distribution, we help farmers build more profitable and sustainable businesses.”
Movement restrictions have led to panic in the distribution chain as restaurants, markets and retailers have closed. Middlemen are also afraid to buy from farmers, who in turn are facing severe losses as they are forced to sell fish at cost.
Nevertheless, household fish consumption has been increasing as consumers look for healthier food choices.
“With this happening, we have changed our distribution channels and tried to adapt to e-commerce, agents and co-branding with restaurants. We also offer ready-to-cook processed fish, which has received a good response,” said Mr Huzaifah.
“For people who live in big cities, access to some foods may not be too difficult, but what about those who live in villages? We are trying to solve this problem in the villages and other remote areas.
“We aren’t just building our business, we are also trying to make an impact on our society, he added.