Farmers Edge gains backing from Mitsui, eyes Russian expansion

The precision agriculture data management tool provider will use the funding to help expand its operations in Russia, Brazil, Australia and the US.

Mitsui & Co, the Japanese natural resources trading conglomerate, has invested in Farmers Edge, a Canadian precision agriculture and data management tool provider.

Mitsui follows venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers which invested in Farmers Edge last November.

The deal size was not disclosed but Marina Barnes, vice president for marketing at Farmers Edge, told Agri Investor that the funding will be used towards opening new offices and improving existing operations; the company will soon have a physical presence in Canada, Brazil, US, Australia and Russia.

It recently opened an office in Brazil and has plans to announce a new office in Minnesota soon. But the big focus will be the Russian market, where Farmers Edge has been doing business since 2008 but has yet to establish an office. Barnes said although the arable land base in Russia is huge, the country is lacking good farm management companies.

“Most of the time, the head of [farmland] operations will have nothing to do with agriculture, they are from any other background except agriculture,” she said. “They rely on people in the region and Russia is a high risk market because of its political and economic situation, so there’s always an issue with the level of trust. They are looking for somebody independent who can come in and assess their land and manage their risk.”

Farmers Edge plans to provide clients, including institutional investors, with the tools to perform land assessments, create business plans, gain instruction on operational processes and monitor crop health, according to Barnes.

Farmers Edge was recognised as one of the Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Canada. Its star product is Precision Solutions, which optimises crop inputs, resulting in higher yields, better quality and less environmental impact, according to the company website.

“Investing in Farmers Edge meets our vision of embracing challenge and innovation and connecting nations, people, business and technology,” Jun-ichi Shibuta, general manager of Mitsui, said in a statement. “The adaptation and advancements pioneered by Farmers Edge meets our vision of becoming a global business enabler throughout the world.”

“Mitsui is a premiere technology company with a strong understanding of agriculture and global connectivity. With their support, we are maximizing our ability to disrupt agriculture worldwide into a more productive, progressive and sustainable model,” Wade Barnes, chief executive of Farmers Edge, said in a statement.