Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Folio Seed Bank

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

One-line solution summary:

Engaging farmers-scientists in a self maintained green manure seed bank, operating in a “seed for data” trade system.

1
Add a comment

Read comments
Loading…

Pitch your solution.

We are tackling the widespread, intense and unsustainable usage of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. This practice can be replaced by organic plant-based fertilizers known as green manure. Unfortunately, both seeds and information about this practice are not widely available in Brazil.

Folio Seed Bank is a collaborative green manure seed bank operating in a “seed for data” trade system connected to a network of farmers, scientists and farmer-scientists. Farmers get cheap seeds and return that seed plus structured agronomic data for open source knowledge development. This promotes a self-sustained source of both seeds and information in a positive feedback loop that’s highly scalable and benefits hugely from positive network effects.

Our end game is that by solving the scarcity of good quality organic seeds and information we promote this beneficial agricultural practice, replace harmful fertilizers, reduce GHG emissions and improve carbon capture while empowering farmer-scientists in Brazil.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Film your elevator pitch.

3
Add a comment

Read comments
Loading…

What specific problem are you solving?

We're tackling the problem of excessive usage of nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizers. They consume huge amounts of energy to be produced, most of it is transported overseas and the fertilizer itself is lost to the atmosphere when applied into soil, up to 200 times worse than CO2.

70% of our breathable air is composed of nitrogen, but locked in an extremely stable molecule. Some plants and microbes have the biomachinery necessary to break it down, use it and release its excess. Organic farmers have been using these plants as fertilizer in a technique known as green manure for years.

Green manures are renewable substitutes for N-based synthetic fertilizers that that also protect the soil from erosion. It impacts positively the balance of GHG emissions in transportation and industrial production, and by fixing carbon into soil and reducing emissions of N gases on site.

However, knowledge about these techniques is not widespread and the basic input, the seed, is not accessible. That's the problem we’re addressing - access to knowledge and seeds for better green manure management. This will remove a great bottleneck for organic agriculture and turn this technique into an available practice for any farmer looking to be more sustainable.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

What is your solution?

Folio’s Seed Bank solution promotes organic farming practices in fertilization (green manure) by creating a structure with positive feedback while providing a framework for farmers and scientists to work together, enabling even more innovation in best practices in organic fertilization.

Our structure uses a seed bank for cover crop plants as a centerpiece. This seed bank operates in a “seed for data” trade system where the farmers borrow seeds and, at the end of the season, return a surplus of seeds borrowed plus structured data and information about the agricultural practices used on growing their green manure crops. This creates a positive loop where in each season more seeds and information are gathered.

All this data will be used by scientists, agricultural experts and data scientists to create better understanding on the agricultural practices involving green manure plants aiming to reduce usage of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and mitigate emissions from nitrogen sources. This can also support the industry of green manure seed and incentivize it in the development of better varieties. 

The full cycle ends with the farmers borrowing new seeds and then getting the best, up-to-date and regionally specific recommendations for their green manure crop management.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Create scalable economic opportunities for local communities, including fishing, timber, tourism, and regenerative agriculture, that are aligned with thriving and biodiverse ecosystems
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Our solution aligns with the goal of creating more resilient ecosystems in three ways:

  1. By enabling a new way of providing nitrogen to crops, we can reduce the GHG emissions involved in nitrogen manufacturing and transportation, lowering agriculture’s impact on climate change.

  2. Our model represents a major shift on how nitrogen is obtained by farmers, moving from a highly dependent system where inputs must be acquired from major players in global supply chains, to a system where nitrogen is produced locally. 

  3. Creating a peer-based solution that fosters knowledge advancement and the sharing of resources and information, strengthening communities of farmers.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

São Paulo, SP, Brasil
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

Folio is an existing organization with other initiatives to promote organic grain agriculture in place. We intend, through MIT Solve, to kickstart the Seed Bank as a new project, starting with a smaller scale prototype, leveraging it with our current network of farmers and scientists, and use this initial effort as the ‘seed’ for scaling the project in the next season. Our current network is located in southeast Brazil, produces mainly organic grains, and consists of around 40 farmers. We also have a location in this region that can be repurposed to serve as the seed storage and the knowledge needed for structuring seed data.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Thomas Gamper Feitoza

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

What makes your solution innovative?

Our solution is innovative from two different perspectives. 

The first one is on how we are applying the use of a seed bank. There are multiple seed banks in the world, but their goals are usually to protect specimens. We used the same principle but transformed it into a self-sustaining business model, maintained by a community, and created a new kind of currency: the seed itself, and agronomic data. By returning surplus seeds, the seed bank is always growing in size and variety. By returning the data about how the seed was planted, in which conditions, what was the output, and so forth, we are able to track the variety’s history and provide more information for research and for farmer’s future choices on which seed to choose. We can transform every field into a distributed research plot, scalably. 

The second innovation perspective is on  the value chain. We are enabling the establishment of a new fertilization model in which nitrogen fertilizers can be produced inside the farm, whereas today it is one of the major inputs that must be acquired from major players in global supply chains. Our solution drifts away from mere optimization of resources to rethinking how the industry is currently organized.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Software and Mobile Applications
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Brazil
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Brazil
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

We focus our community expansion on small and medium farmers which normally have less access to technical support and technology solutions.

Folio network currently has 40 small organic grain farmers and we intend to have more than 70 by the end of 2021.

Most of these members are part of rural settlements which are a big network of farmers to produce most of the food consumed in brazilian towns. Brazil has today close to 1 million families in rural settlements across all regions.

Currently Brazil has around 17000 organic farmers across all regions, a number which is at constant growth.

Our Seed Bank initiative aims to serve this network of farmers. Therefore if our model proves successful with inicial grants we believe we could easily reach 5000 farmers in 5 years.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We are connecting our key metrics with their respective UN Sustainable Development Goals. As we have a data-driven mindset we intend on having a really close monitoring system for these metrics.

SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Number of stakeholders involved in our network - farmers, scientists, consumers, enthusiasts

  • Number of knowledge sharing events and attendance

SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

  • Tonnes of organic grain yields without using synthetic fertilizers entering the supply chain

  • Tonnes of seeds managed at Folio Seed Bank

  • Data volume collected on crop science of green manure

  • Number of audio-visual materials generated from our data models and analysis

  • “Seed default” and delinquency metrics

SDG 13 - Climate Action

  • kg of CO2eq avoided into the atmosphere from quitting synthetic nitrogen fertilizers

  • kg of positive soil carbon stocks balance on our farmers plots

  • Tonnes of of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use avoided

  • Tonnes of nitrogen-equivalent applied in soil via green manure instead of synthetic fertilizer

  • Number of relevant scientific publications generated from our studies on the benefits of green manure

  • Productivity and operational efficiency improvements using green manure fertilizer

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How many people work on your solution team?

Part-time staff: 3 members

Folio, our organization, has 10 part-time members. 

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How long have you been working on your solution?

1

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Folio is an organization founded for fostering organic grain agriculture through science, technology, collaboration and management. We understand major challenges preventing the widespread of organic grain agriculture practice and solve them by fostering research, scientific methods and uniting different value chain stakeholders into projects. 

We provide services for those stakeholders and maintain a close network of farmers. This network, called Rede Folio, consists of farmers who produce organically or are transitioning for this kind of agriculture. The farmers share with Folio their agronomic and financial data, and participate in discussion groups moderated by us in order to share acquired knowledge and identify challenges that must be tackled - many of them by projects that Folio itself develops. We are in constant contact with farmers, and also on their farms, and this proximity gives us a privileged view on the major challenges faced for sustainable agriculture. 

Our different expertises, on the other hand, allows us to bring diverse previous experiences into thinking how to solve those challenges in innovative ways. Folio’s team has backgrounds combined in leading the oil & seeds platform at one of the largest trading companies, leading digital products enabled by data intelligence in agriculture, developing entrepreneurial networks in a global non-profit organization, working directly with data science in a successful digital technology company, and graduations in forest, ocean and agronomic engineering. 

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

Folio network supports the technology improvement and development mainly focused on small and medium farmers, most of them at rural settlement communities.

Our organization was born to share existing knowledge with and among small farm holds, bringing technical assistance and business opportunities to convert every farmer of the network into a scientist. The inclusion of these farmers into an organic profitable model is the core activity of Folio and we believe with Folio Seed Bank we will be able to take it one step further.

We usually empower a local women as local leader in each settlement. This leadership is the local focal point of our interaction and the pivot of information sharing.

We believe this is a key pillar to improve woman leadership in the organic transition bringing them to a stronger position in local community decisions.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

The Grant will support the initiative to start and give more visibility and recognition on the big potential impact of our Seed Bank. This recognition may translate into potential new connections with institutions that may provide further Grants for us to expand until reaching maturity.

Connecting with MIT Solve will also be important for improving our knowledge on data collection methods and monitoring systems to extract the most out of each farmer's experience. Data analytics will also be key for us to perform our challenge and we believe that interacting with the MIT network may bring big upside.

We aim to connect with tech companies that may have new solutions which could be applied to our farmer network not only related to the Seed Bank but also to expand for future windows of opportunity such as weather services, new equipment development, seed technology, biological control technology, IOT for farm monitoring and many different fields that could bring small farmers inclusion into a more profitable supply chain.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Please explain in more detail here.

Folio has the intention to connect new technology companies with small and medium farmers so they can benefit from the latest developments to create a profitable and sustainable business model. The Seed Bank is one of our initiatives. We believe that MIT support on technology will be key for our success.

For the Seed Bank success we believe 3 pillars are key: 

1- Good monitoring and data collection at farm level to accelerate improvements 

2- Efficient logistics and communication to engage new farmers 

3- Adapt and improve technology to produce green manure seeds. 

Therefore being able to learn more on Product/Service Distribution and also Monitoring & Evaluation should bring a lot of value to our initiatives. We have little Public Relations knowledge in our member team and improving on that front may be relevant for scaling faster and generating higher impact.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

MIT Solvers: Safi Sarvi by Takachar, Forlight, Fresh Direct Nigeria, Whole Surplus. Those companies could support Folio on their experience on how to overcome distribution challenges, in our case how to speed up the network construction.

MIT Media Lab, working in community learning projects and learning advancement. 

Other laboratories that could bring a useful connection are the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, Environmental Solutions Initiative and Lab for Information & Decision System. 

We already have connection that we intend to intensify with the S3L - Stanford's Sustainable Systems Lab.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GM Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Minderoo Prize to End Global Overfishing? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ServiceNow Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI for Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GSR Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Solution Team

 
    Back
to Top