This series provides insights into the global array of companies participating in this challenge as innovators or sponsors.
The 6th of this Spotlight Series focuses on Jala, one of the eight innovation finalists of this program. In the coming weeks leading to the grand Finale on the 7th of October, we will profile the other innovations and sponsors of this challenge.
Jala reaches maturity phase in digital shrimp farming model
(Yogyakarta, Indonesia) A range of companies are swiftly offering aquaculture a suite of digital tools to help lower disease-induced mortality, improve feed efficiency and boost the health of aquaculture ecosystems.
Major feed companies such as Cargill and Nutreco are vying with start-ups in a battle to win the loyalty of the farmer with all-in-one mobile apps that provide a snapshot of a shrimp pond, charting temperature, pH levels and salinity.
Jala, one of the earliest start-ups to enter the digital aquaculture arena and a member of The Yield Lab Asia Pacific Global Aquaculture Challenge cohort, has taken a different approach by laser focusing solely on the Indonesian shrimp farming market. With a country specific approach, Jala has enrolled thousands of users on its platform, from farmers of all sizes to processing companies and suppliers of key farmer inputs.
“Now we really have the whole shrimp ecosystem, we have the farmers, local suppliers and the processing companies,” said Liris Maduningtyas, Jala CEO and named in the Forbes list of 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
Jala in its earliest days was focused on farmers only, collecting thousands of data points from more than 9,000 farmers dotted across Indonesia. Having recorded the data for several shrimp farming cycles has now become a significant advantage for Jala, since its in-house data shows unique insights into the Indonesian shrimp farming space.
“We can see the behavior of shrimp farmers in Indonesia and thus when it is best to harvest,” Maduningtyas said. “In general we can see what farmers in the top percentile do.”
Sharing that data with other farmers, and industry actors, is valuable. The data footprint on the Jala network is potentially a game changer for the entire industry, in that it can attract financial actors from lenders to insurance companies with some basic assurances about farm performance.
Jala is preparing for its first Series A round this year, and the proceeds will be used to build a new program called Jala SmartFarm. This will triangulate the data points by the Jala sensor device, plus farmer inputs, and potentially attract certification companies and lenders to Indonesia.
This is partly why Jala joined The Yield Lab Asia Pacific Global Aquaculture Challenge, as it reaches out to new investors to scale-up, and to approach the certification companies. Having been part of the Hatch accelerator program a couple of years ago as an early start-up, Jala is now at a different stage in its development as a company.
“There’s a lot of opportunity that we can bring with this digitalization getting them funding, getting them certification, and getting them better trading deals,” Maduningtyas said.
Indonesian farmers along with those from most of Southeast Asia are mainly smallholders who often live from harvest to harvest for working capital and sell shrimps from uncertified farm. That locks them out of key lucrative markets such as Northern Europe.
On a world scale, Indonesia is one of the world’s leading shrimp exporting nations, and boosted shipments to the US during the coronavirus pandemic as India and Vietnam suffered with logistical issues. But the US, like Europe, is expected to demand more certified products in coming years, which will lock uncertified Southeast Asian shrimp out of some of the best contracts.
Indonesia’s large and medium-scale farmers have predictably become the biggest Jala clients, both representing about 36% of the customer base. But the fact that the company offers a free product (for farmers up to 10 ponds), means that 20% of farmers inputting data into the model are smallholders. The customer base is also evenly divided between farmers with hyper-intensive, intensive and semi-intensive farms.
Even though the shrimp industry is extremely global, Jala has been well served by its dedication to Indonesia, focusing on uptake in a major shrimp country. Jala hopes that one day, its deep acquired knowledge of the Indonesian shrimp sector will allow the company to expand beyond its shores to other key producing nations.
16 Aug 2021.
Matt Craze and Oriana Aguillon, Spheric Research.