Canadian-based precision agriculture provider Farmers Edge recently announced a new partnership with Japanese general trading company Mitsui & Co, Ltd. to help develop its product line and expand its current market reach. As part of the partnership, Mitsui made an initial undisclosed investment in Farmers Edge. Kleiner Perkins made a Series B investment in the company in November 2014, helping Farmers Edge focus its growth on developing big data technologies. Through its partnership with Mitsui, Farmers Edge is aiming to increase its presence in global markets, including Australia, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Canada, and the United States. According to Farmers Edge CEO Wade Barnes, Mitsui has the connections to make this market expansion possible.
“Mitsui has a pretty strong tech side of things. They’re developing a lot of interesting agtech pieces where they have done a lot of research and development work,” says Barnes. “They also have many strategic relationships with technology groups that haven’t been focused on ag, but which have developed technologies that have applications in ag.” Through its partnership with Mitsui, Farmers Edge hopes to foster new relationships with these technology providers and to use the data it collects to develop new and improved products in the future. “Mitsui has amazing partnerships and connections in all reaches of agriculture. We think it will be really effective driving us down the road,” reports Wade.
Developed by academics in agrology and inspired by the potential promise of incorporating technology into traditional farmer methodologies, Farmers Edge first hit the market in 2005. The company earned a number of awards and recognitions, including a spot on the Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Canada list.
Farmers Edge offers a wide variety of precision agriculture products for farmers along every stage of the production scale. According to Wade, one of the most popular Farmers Edge products is the Ultra Solution, which includes variable rate technology, data management and result measurement with less intensive soil sampling. The Smart Solution is also popular with many growers in Brazil and Russia, where large-scale operations are common and more decision support is typically desired. Smart Solution incorporates agronomic phone support, satellite imagery, and weather monitoring.
Mitsui, one of the largest and most diversified trading, investment, and service enterprises in the world, is involved with a number of sectors, including chemicals, machinery, food, textile, and logistics. The majority of Mitsui’s involvement lies in the energy sector, constituting over half of its net earnings in the first of half of the 2015 fiscal year. As of March 1, 2015, Mitsui maintains a global operations network consisting of 142 offices in 66 countries. Through this expansive global reach, Mitsui is pursuing business development that ranges from product sales, worldwide logistics, and financing, and taking an active approach to the challenges facing business innovation around the globe.
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“Investing in Farmers Edge meets our vision of embracing challenge and innovation and connecting nations, people, business and technology,” says Mr. Jun-ichi Shibuta, General Manager, Social IT Platform Division of Mitsui. “The adaptation and advancements pioneered by Farmers Edge meets our vision of becoming a global business enabler throughout the world.”
On working with Mitsui so far, Wade said, “We have been really surprised with Mitsui’s engagement. We are a small company compared to the scope and size of Mitsui. We have been quite surprised about their support. I can’t say enough great things about the Mitsui team.”
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