Forward Food Tech Podcast

Crypto Tokens to Reward Climate-Smart Farmers - Bx

September 30, 2021 Forward Food Tech Season 1 Episode 9
Forward Food Tech Podcast
Crypto Tokens to Reward Climate-Smart Farmers - Bx
Show Notes Transcript

Today our guests are Antony Yousefian and Sadia Ahmed from Bx. Bx is building a two-sided marketplace that connects growers who want to store more carbon in the soil with corporates who need to offset their carbon emissions. It is farm-inspired blockchain technology, incentivising growers to change behaviours to climate-smart practices and financially rewarding them using carbon credit tokens.

Antony co-founded Bx along with Ben Bardsley and is passionate about technology that can drive a positive impact. He started his career in asset management and has worked on internationalising CICC, one of China's leading investment banking firms. He has over five years of experience working in Ag-Tech, during which he scaled the 30MHz data platform from the Netherlands to over 40 countries worldwide. 

Our other guest, Sadia is the Chief Innovation Officer at Bx. Having completed her PhD in Computational Ecology at Imperial College London, she has spent the last decade working with large corporations on innovation and developing commercial solutions in sustainability and life sciences. In her current role, she leads the Business Development activities of Bx on its journey to create climate-tech solutions and scale up internationally. Enjoy the conversation between Rob, Sadia and Antony!

Learn more about Bx: https://bx-earth.com/
Connect with Antony on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/antonyyousefian/
Connect with Sadia on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sadia-e-ahmed-83b21a78/
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Iliyana Dimitrova:

Hi, welcome to the Forward Food Tech podcast where we explore the future of food and agriculture with the people who are taking us there. Today our guests are Antony Yousefian and Sadia Ahmed from Bx. Bx are building a two-sided marketplace that connects growers who want to store more carbon in the soil with corporates who need to offset their carbon emissions. It is farm-inspired blockchain technology, incentivising growers to change behaviours to climate smart practices and financially rewarding them using carbon credit tokens. Antony co-founded Bx along with Ben Bardsley and is passionate about technology that can drive a positive impact. He started his career in asset management and has worked on internationalising CICC, one of China's leading investment banking firms. He has over five years of experience working in Ag-Tech, during which he scaled the 30MHz data platform from the Netherlands to over 40 countries worldwide. Our other guest, Sadia is the Chief Innovation Officer at Bx. Having completed her PhD in Computational Ecology at Imperial College London, she has spent the last decade working with large corporations on innovation and developing commercial solutions in sustainability and life sciences. In her current role, she leads the Business Development activities of Bx on its journey to create climate-tech solutions and scale up internationally. Enjoy the conversation between Rob, Sadia and Antony!

Rob Ward:

Well, welcome Anthony and Sadya to the Forward Food Tech podcast, fantastic to have you here because we're super excited about the fresh thinking that you're applying to initially, I understand, the apple industry but across potentially a much wider area, Anthony diving into you first. What are you doing with Bx? Talk us through that the initial headline basics, please?

Antony Yousefian:

Yeah, sure. So thanks, Rob, for inviting us. Love the podcast, I've got to do a shout out to the podcast, right? Always listen to it.

Rob Ward:

It's a pleasure! Great to have you on board.

Antony Yousefian:

Always get the alerts when the new one comes on. So appreciate it. I just want to start off by saying why we actually kind of built Bx. I've been involved in ag tech for the last four or five years, I came quite troubled initially, how the industry is set up in terms of the whole system is set up to incentivize food producers, growers to grow cheaper and cheaper food and 'feed the world' narrative. I just thought that was completely unsustainable. I met with Ben Bardsley, the co founder of Bx. We had to make a change of the industry, we had to get growers rewarded for their positive good, that they can do but they're just lacking the incentive. I came from the financial industry, which again, is all about incentives and rewarding those who do so we saw an opportunity to connect those two worlds up, to connect corporates and investors who are wanting to invest in impact and positivity and growers who can if you can just measure and quantify it. So this is what we designed at Bx, it's this two sided marketplace where we are incentivizing growers starting in perennial, which you mentioned, to change behaviours, to change behaviours to climate smart practices, and financially rewarding them. And we're utilising some of the latest technologies that are out there to activate that which is smart contracts on the blockchain.

Rob Ward:

I'm gonna hold you there, we're gonna go a lot deeper, I promise you. So in essence, what we're saying is that your created a platform that farmers if they follow that platform will get paid for how they're doing and be rewarded for what will be a more sustainable way of farming perennial crops.

Antony Yousefian:

Correct.

Rob Ward:

Awesome. We'll go into a lot more detail in a second. But I want to bring in Sadya. Sadya, what got you into this industry? What was your attraction to this, you're keen on innovation, I'd love to understand what you're thinking around on how innovation can play its way out.

Sadia Ahmed:

So I suppose I'll start off with how I got into this. I've always been interested in the natural world, and how humans interact with the natural world, you know, all my original degrees were very much looking at that interface. And over the years, I've become more and more commercial in the sense of, how do you take fundamental research and turn it into products and services. And I think that I've seen a huge gap within the food industry, how we produce our food, where we get it from the supply chains, we use the fundamental ways that we're growing food, there's so much scope for improvement. Currently, agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and to environmental degradation. But on the other hand, it is in itself an ecosystem and it can be a fantastic ecosystem, if we treat it the right way. And so for me, it's always been about how can I have impact in this and I think Bx is a wonderful way of doing it. Creating that change in an industry by setting up the right mechanisms.

Rob Ward:

That's very emotive stuff and it's a big challenge, isn't it? Which I think we're very aware of. So Antony, back to the business model, tell us a little bit about Bardsley as well. And the fact where this idea came from because what I love about what you're doing is that this is a farm inspired technology, this has come from the farm.

Antony Yousefian:

Yeah, it comes about from my experiences in ag tech. I've found product development was so slow because of the seasonality, very costly for ag tech. So wouldn't it be better if we just built an ag tech business inside a farm so we can iterate on a daily basis and not just a small one hectare, two hecatre trials. We need to do this, prove this out on big commercial scale. Like that's what everyone always calls out for when you get to these ag tech centres is that they need to see this work in the commercial environment. So this is it. This is exactly it. So Bx was basically built inside Bardsley, England, who are now the second largest top Fruit Grower in the UK and Ben Bardsley has scaled up that business very, very quickly in the last few years, it's proving to be quite successful. I think it's a future model, which others should do, you also then get buy in from the grower and the growers, which is huge, because normally you get that reluctance or concern, we know it's a conservative market. So this business model of doing those first early iterations on farm is proving to be a very successful, I believe a successful one, which I hope ever people copy.

Rob Ward:

It is, because I can see why it would be one. Speaking as a farmer that did take business from his farm. But other top fruit growers in this case also will be other crops later on. But it's so much more believable when a key business that's very commercial is actually looking at it. The bit I found interesting about this is that, of course, it's a good way for you to buy technology for your own farm, because you're working with others to get a critical mass to make it wider, and unit costs more affordable for everybody. That's an interesting angle here. Because I guess if you were an arable farmer and you built your own combine, it probably costs more money than buying it off the shelf. And again, this is the ag tech comparison here, that's the same position. I'm gonna get back to Sadya here. Now you you've got an incredible academic background, it's really wonderful to see such a highly qualified person working in this sector. Give me an example of the sort of stuff you're working on right now that you really enjoy doing. Maybe hopefully this inspires somebody to even join your business or at least be inspired to be involved in the industry.

Sadia Ahmed:

I think that's a really key point for us in terms of getting the right types of skills and talent into the agricultural industry. I think traditionally, it's been seen as a rather conservative type of industry you might not go into, but it is becoming more and more technological. And that's the way it has to go. So in terms of the projects that I'm working on right now that I'm really excited about. I think the one that I'm most excited about right now is looking at biodiversity. So we spent and the academic community has spent decades trying to work out how you measure and value biodiversity. And one of the projects that we're working on right now is how do you measure biodiversity on the farms in a way that is comparable globally, but also useful and doable at scale, that doesn't rely on you know, an entomologist to come in with traps and trap the insects then spend hours looking down a microscope to identify them. And so we're looking at how we can scale up that biodiversity monitoring, which I'm really excited about. Another project that we're looking at is linked to biodiversity but primarily linked to soil dynamics. So as we get more and more programmes around sequestering carbon using agricultural soils, there are lots of questions that come up around how do you know when to sample what's the correct sampling regime? And currently those answers don't exist. You can't go to a textbook and say, okay, well, I'll look this up. And I've got an answer. We've got industry standards, and we've got a lot of literature but converting that information into something commercial. That's another project that we're looking at in terms of doing our own soil experiments, going out measuring at super high density to find out what is the cutoff point for us getting the information we need to issue carbon credits, in a reliable, robust and measured way.

Rob Ward:

I guess that problem solving part is what it's all about. I mean, the cliche is that you jump out the airplane and build a parachute before you hit the deck, which is, I guess, very relevant here. You've done a lot. You've been involved with some really interesting businesses, what are the mistakes in the past that have formed you to think differently today?

Antony Yousefian:

Mistakes? Don't go into finance? No, no, that's not true. Let's just work backwards. Like some of the mistakes that you know, I think we made at 30 megahertz. I started my ag tech journey there. And this is the problem I think a lot of Ag tech struggle with is understanding your value proposition very clearly. We were very worried about trying to push for that value proposition and you just run around. You got a hammer, you're trying to find a nail to your solution to kind of fit it in with so we were just struggling to, find that right market that we're finding our project. We thought we had the product, the product wasn't good enough. And so I think you just needed to kind of slow down and spend time with the customer a bit more deeply to understand that. So if we can go back again, the mistakes I made I suppose would be doing more market research. We should have maybe brought in it was beautiful story that we were a group of engineers and enthusiasts that wanted to change agriculture at 30 megahertz. But we probably didn't have that domain experience. It helped us that we were like, hey, we're coming in to kind of help improve your environment and make you a better grower. But can you tell us what to do? Can you tell us? I think no, now, if we invested we had that domain experience, but at the same time, not having it asked enabled us to ask the question from a different angle, which is really, really important.

Rob Ward:

This is the classic innovation paradox, isn't it? That no problem is solved from within the world it's been created at the same time, you need to have understand what that world is.

Sadia Ahmed:

I think that's one of the key differences with Bx. We've deliberately incubated ourselves on farm and we've deliberately built a team from a really diverse background to address that.

Rob Ward:

And you've always got Ben to remind you of the true farming elements, which I'm sure he does very, very eloquently and directly. Incidentally, we love his videos. He's just a cracking job. And it certainly made it put a smile on my face during lockdown here in the UK, I'm sure around the world. They're phenomenal. We were talking before we went live about the moment when he did the frost sprinklers and showed us this bud of an apple crystal, in his sort of protective ice cube. It's just stunning. It was really something out of Disneyland. It's actually all about communication. So I guess that probably draws us into another area here. How are you going to scale your business that you're creating at Bx?

Antony Yousefian:

We're having this conversation the other day about look, we're having this issue at the moment partly with investors, for example, into Bx. There's definitely, let's just say everyone thinks about carbon. And let's talk about carbon and communication. It's a carbon cycle, right? It's a cycle. And everyone's a bit obsessed at the moment about how can we just chuck it back in the ground? And before you can, there are so many other things that have gotta happen before that occurs. And I think if we just chuck it back in the ground, there's gonna be unintended consequences for that. And the reason why is there's other greenhouse gases up there as well, which are warming up the planet to be quite clear. But if the ecosystem services which we've destroyed, which is obviously put everything off balance, so we're finding partly also in the carbon credit market, there's an obsession right now about how permanent is that carbon in the ground? How can you keep there for a 1000 years? What if nobody'll be around to even check that? But we can't keep carbon in the ground, it shouldn't be kept in the ground. It's a cycle. We're all made of carbon. So you know, I think there's a big education process down here, we've got an education process to go on the grower side as well, where we're trying to not educate them, but give them the confidence and the data to transition. It's amazing that the conversations we have with a lot of the growers we're having now and it's been great. A lot of them are like, hey, we're doing this already, can we get involved, they're like we've been wanting to do this we're already doing this we just actually frustrated we're not being rewarded for it, we just constantly working against the tide which is working against us. So it's amazing how many people are actually really up for it. They open their books and say look, I've got a book on this is from 1946 and 1930. This is how they used to grow. And I know this is true, it's quite actually an open door but there's a path, there's a kind of communication exercise to go on there as well which we're trying to build that into into Bx so as much as it's a technology and software platform. So there's a huge human element to it. Each of our customers are well supported by people within Bx from, as Sadia says, we've got people in our team with very diverse backgrounds, we have data analysts, technical account managers for the industry, and then also climate smart advisors as well who've done these practices they're in our team as well. So really I think you're right is a massive communication exercise but we have been on this journey on climate change anyway already.

Rob Ward:

So keep your eye on the communications there for a moment. Would you be communicating this on the pack, in front of pack with the product? And how will that look, as in, well I start to recognise this across a range of products?

Antony Yousefian:

Yeah, yeah, sure. So step one for us is giving the growers the power and the capability to have that information and then it's up to them how they want to utilise that information. They want to put it on their packs, you know, all power to them and we want them to, but it should it shouldn't come the other way down. It's just I think it's happening at the moment is you should put that on there and do it at whatever costs. It should be grower-led, this is our numbers and this is our data and it's on our pack.

Rob Ward:

Okay, so maybe I didn't explain that very well. What I mean is that it wouldn't be a brand Bx that I put on the pack that then to a consumer I go, okay, I ate braeburn apples from there and I saw that, or I read about that thing that I now understand is good for the environment and are buying a Cox's Apple from another farm that's bought into your system, and still has that recognised system for how they farm from your way of doing things? Is that what's going to happen? Is that what you where you see it going?

Antony Yousefian:

It's a huge opportunity to do that. There's a huge opportunity to do that. And it needs to be a data-backed brand. And is that Bx? Maybe. We're working on it.

Sadia Ahmed:

I think the key part about it is whether it's a Bx brand or another brand. The point is Bx will be providing the data and the information that is required to back it up. That's very much the part that we are definitely playing today. And our entire ethos is around as much evidence as we can possibly gather.

Rob Ward:

And I guess, under scrutiny, which is where you're touching, I think before by the carbon cycle, Anthony, it's got to stand up to that, isn't it? If If I'm paying good money as a large corporate to buy credits from this? Could you see any situation where consumers actually subscribe to this?

Sadia Ahmed:

I completely think it's possible. Fundamentally, the earth exchange is an open marketplace. And we're not going to put restrictions on who can come in and purchase investment tokens or carbon credits, it's going to be an open marketplace, just like any other exchanges.

Rob Ward:

Crowdfunding, potentially, by way of a subscription even for people that believe in how you farm, which, by the way, you've been doing the work on LinkedIn, you're already pretty good at it. I'm in. It's great, it's really exciting to see.

Sadia Ahmed:

That's the fundamental principle behind our ESI NFT's.

Rob Ward:

So just for the ones of simplicity, what do those acronyms mean?

Sadia Ahmed:

Sorry, an ESI is an ecosystem improvement token. The idea is that we segment the orchards from our customer base on the farming side into digital tokens that represent a specific area of land. And there are two reasons we do this first is because the digitised nature of it helps with blockchain technology, but also, by tying it to a specific area on a map, you guarantee that you're not double counting, because we then cannot sell that, we can't say sell the same possible answer to two people because you can see it that GPS location, it's that boundary. So that's fundamentally ESI is, it's that representation, and the fact that we tokenized it, it acts like a non-fungible token on the blockchain. It's unique, and it can't be replaced with another token, essentially.

Rob Ward:

So can I buy and sell it?

Sadia Ahmed:

Yes, yes.

Antony Yousefian:

I like to say there's a new world forming here obviously with blockchain and there's a whole new asset base in terms of being created and we all know ecosystem services it does 2 two times or it used to, research says ecosystem services, be it pollination, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, these provide to the economy two times global GDP, but we're destroying it at a rate of between five and twenty trillion a year at the expense of the GDP growth. So if we can digitise those ecosystem services and make them a valuable asset and investable asset, people can then start investing in them backing and regenerating them This is what we're most excite about the Earth Exchang platform

Iliyana Dimitrova:

Just as a side note, The Earth Exchange is Bx's trading platform for carbon tokens. Its not fully functional yet but it is in its infancy at bx-earth.com.You can already register interest to buy these tokens on their website. You will see a list of fields that corporates can invest in directly and help growers transition to sustainable agriculture.Now back to the podcast.

Antony Yousefian:

You can start to then channel capital towards and back those who can repair it. You can make money on saving the planet, we believe. And why not? Take me to jail for making money on saving the planet, right? Not me but everyone else. That's the best thing ever. Let's stop getting addicted to Instagram and everything else. So yeah, I'm coming out now with all our secrets. We're going to use the same tactics that Facebook and Instagram use to get you addicted, right? We're going to get you addicted to saving the planet. Sadia's shaking her head now can I get into excited but it's true.

Rob Ward:

Well, it isn't. This this is the difference though surely to somebody buying shares in a company that has values that you agree with two somebody that's speculating and looking to make money on that, that asset becoming more valuable. Again, cash out on that. And I guess there's a moral dilemma there to a certain extent. At the same time, the profit of that would go to the buyer, wouldn't it?

Antony Yousefian:

So we've built a smart mechanism on this. So any profit that is made from those investors, the corporate base from the ecosystem improving, there's a clawback mechanism where that clawbacks and takes a profit, like a tax back off that profit and we distribute it to all the growers on the platform. So it's like a community base, we're all gonna lift to make this better, and there'll be some trading between it. And then as if there's any profit making, 50% of those returns come back, so we're incentivizing a better behaviour.

Rob Ward:

That's really advanced, just to be slightly cheeky, what happens if there's a loss?

Antony Yousefian:

Nothing's free in life, I know, we can print more money like the government's do, right. If there's a loss, there's a loss, these are risks.

Rob Ward:

So the loss would be absorbed by the buyer, wouldn't it, I'm trying to think why there would be a loss, because I can presume that the person who bought it, who was a speculator didn't see the growth that they thought and therefore wanted get out?

Antony Yousefian:

There could be issues like the ecosystem values declines. So let's just say the carbon that's been in the soil right now just completely disappears due to an accident or something like that, then then the characteristics driving the ecosystem value, biodiversity just disappears, because of something happens, these things can happen.

Sadia Ahmed:

Let's say we have a grower who's working in the Brazilian Amazon, and policy changes, and therefore, the practices change rapidly. That could be an example where where you could see that loss. But in some ways, that's no different than when you invest in any other stock or share of a company.

Rob Ward:

I listened misunderstood this, it's possible. I guess that in some ways, then the owner of that token at that moment, is almost like the guardian of what's happening. So I think you've actually helped something fascinating because the biggest problem I've had, personally, with arable farming, doing carbon sequestration trading, is who's going to check that that farm is still going to be doing what it's doing in 10 years time, because quite frankly, the farmer could be at the pearly gates dead and buried. And a new person comes along and says, thanks very much for farming it beautifully for the last 10-20 years, you've increased the organic matter, you've increased the garden storage, I'm now going to farm it, like, frankly, people have been farming the previous century and rip the hell out of it. Because I can do, I own the land, I bought it. I suppose at that point, the token owner, would they have any influence on that?

Antony Yousefian:

We will measure regularly as part of being on the platforms we measure annually, the grower so there's like kind of that happens, as well as the software they're utilising actually monitors on a daily basis, because they're helping operationally as well, that data source is going to be exposed to the trading exchange as well. So you can easily see as well as this is public, this is on the blockchain. There's nothing hiding here for everyone. If you sign up to this, you're signing up to transparency, but you wanted to be transparent, because you're a good person, and you're wanting to do something positive. If you're a bad actor, you're gonna get found out quickly. And then that's public, there's always forever going to be public, you're a bad actor, it's printed in the blockchain but generally, we know 99% of growers are wanting to do good.

Rob Ward:

Yeah, I'm being devil's advocate here. This is not about us, it's about our children and their children. And and if they turn around and say what a bloody stupid idea that was 20 years ago, because they didn't think about locking the safe door, they put the currency of carbon credits in the in the safe, but if we've got to lock it, and someone's come along and pinched it all. So if there is a, what you've got there as a moral guidance system, if there is more of a stick, i.e. a penalty of some sort, then that perhaps could be the other side of this that needs to be in. But that's just a thought. But what you're doing is really exciting and essentially dealing with a way that doesn't rely on governmental or policy in the way that it needs subsidy or some sort of handouts, and getting the entire economy involved with it, rather than just the farm being bullied into doing something that they probably can't afford to do.

Sadia Ahmed:

Just this one last point on, using a carrot versus using a stick and we've been very clear that we actually actively don't want to use a stick and there are lots of reasons behind that. Not least because they're not effective, and point in cases, let's take speed cameras, speed cameras are fundamentally a stick. A lot of people treat speed cameras as I will slow down as I come up to it and then I'll speed up after I go past it. You have a little bubble of compliance around that. So people are are only behaving when they're being watched potentially. We don't want that happening with our system. It's not about if you do this bad, you'll be punished for it. It's about positive rewards and people doing things because the system we create creates an environment where they want to do the right thing, and it becomes a no brainer to not do it or to do it.

Rob Ward:

And that's where the guardianship comes in. And that's really smart. I totally agree with you. The problem with any protocol that's out there is that once they meet a minimum standard, or in your case, the below maximum speed limit, they've done the job. So then it comes down to in the farming case, the biggest player wins thereafter, because everything else is fair game once you hit the minimum standard, whereas if you've got an never ending, higher standard, then it's only a race to the top, not to the bottom.

Sadia Ahmed:

Exactly. It's about continuous improvement.

Rob Ward:

So that's exciting. Let's get to the financials for the farm, how much, just rough idea, for a potential farmer wanting to be part of this not talking about Bardsley now, I'm talking about one of your customers. What sort of returns do you think you'll be able to help them with as well as they'll see the environmental impact that you're looking to achieve and all the other benefits of that? What actual cash are we're talking about here?

Antony Yousefian:

I think, the easy win, we want to easily refer to his inputs. You suddenly become incentivized, because you're worried about that input has an emission impact, and then also look at the damage it's actually doing to the soil. So there's untold evidence and stories and podcasts around the world that are showing quotes, they'd reduce their inputs by 50%. And they just say numbers.

Rob Ward:

So on an apple business, just for the listeners, 50% reduction in inputs? We're talking about ag-chem inputs, aren't we? How much is that? And how much is that per hectare?

Antony Yousefian:

It's over a 1000 a hectare.

Rob Ward:

Okay. So whatever that is, that's 400 ish pounds per acre, or $500, or something like that. Just something to go off to for the the international listener. So you reckon you could halve that? And when you've got a big business, like

Antony Yousefian:

And then on that input, like who does that Bardsley, that's a big saving. So input? Right, there's a labour saving there as well. You didn't have to run that tractor through, that's an emission impact as well. Okay, so there's multiple butterfly savings.

Rob Ward:

That I appreciate. What are the extra costs then that I'd like to have?

Antony Yousefian:

There is also an argument, I like to call them drug addicts, these trees, they are drug addicts, that's a bit harsh, but it's like you and I wake up every day and are bleaching ourselves every single day and doubting ourselves and drinking antibiotics. That's what we're doing to our food system, and doing to our trees. So to just stop doing that, it's probably not gonna be easy for you, if you've been used to that you're going to go cold turkey. So there is a bit of a transition phase. So it is also probably recommended you spend more on nutritional inputs, instead of spraying a fungicide and a pesticide and a herbicide. Could you apply nutrients to tackle that fear of that disease diseases coming because of nutritional deficiency? So could you give some nutrients so that disease doesn't proliferate. You could actually spend just as much on, in some cases on the first two years on the same inputs, but you've got to start measuring, you got to measure your soil, you got to measure like your SAT analysis, and they can see what is deficient. So you can make that better decision.

Rob Ward:

In a nutshell, what you're saying is that I can save money on inputs, but there will be other costs to get there. But we're going in the right direction because of that. So it's fairly cash neutral.

Antony Yousefian:

The point being that everyone looks for formula, every field and every soil is different. And this is why at Bx we basically build a digital twin, arguably a database per every single field is a different world and we just treat it independently, that field cannot be the same as that one, we then compare, hold on, you are very characteristically similar in all your characteristics of your practices to your weather to your soil conditions. Now, okay, that one did five times and that one did one time there, you can apply a similar formula. You can't take this blanket approach. There's an ecosystem. So that's why I'm bit like some you might some you won't, but you've got to have the data to be able to make those smart loans to it's just too blanket, one formula, reduced down. That's the problem.

Rob Ward:

No, I appreciate that. And when would the token payment start to kick in? And what level, what sort of money would the farmer get?

Antony Yousefian:

If I just go back to how the business model works for the grower, our software that we built for the grower, it's as an intelligence that one it helps them drive operational efficiencies, which you can't describe that it will give them visibility to save money on labour, to save money on inputs and just make better decisions. That's what most farm managers in software do. But this is the intelligence layer, this is integrating the data. But more importantly is when the grower on onboards our platform, and they sign up to the earth exchange, they sign up to the for climate smart practices which we guide them to do. So it's first one is increased biodiversity. When they grower onboards to Bx, we give them two solutions. One is the software for the grower. And that gives them operational efficiency, gives them visibility on our operations to make better decisions to save on inputs, save on labour. And then we also create the tokens for them today, which get issued to the exchange. And that's done on an orchard by orchard level, which we discussed earlier. And when you issue that token, you sign up to this smart contract, which is the climate smart practice of increasing biodiversity, protecting the soil and a carbon net, increasing soil life, and producing carbon neutral food. Now, let's just take that first one at increasing biodiversity. Well, let's say you sell one of your tokens for 1000 pounds or $1,000 for the international listeners $1,000, we will release the capital from that sale as soon as those pillars are hit. So once I've verified that pillar, let's say increased biodiversity has occurred, then your financial incentive is released, the grower then knows that cash is there. If I do this, I'm going to get rewarded, not I hope the supplier will pay me for this positivity or they'll get more of my price at the end of the year, in what price I'll get. They've got guarantee that they're going to get that reward. So incentivizes the behaviour and rewards the behaviour and we predict that more and more these tokens increase in value. So then more and more people are going to really want to enact these behaviours. So it's a smart contract.

Rob Ward:

It's Kickstarter meet crowdfunding meet legislation, environmental best practice all in one. I can see why you've been scratching your head and working so hard for so many months. I mean, you're so hard to get hold of now you've been busy. I think we could talk all day. But I think what we've got here is a really innovative, talk about innovation. This is really dramatic and fantastic what you doing, guys. I understand you're raising money at the moment or I what stage you're at with that?

Antony Yousefian:

Yeah, we're in the middle of a capital raise at the moment, yeah, hoping to close it soon.

Rob Ward:

If you're interested in investing in these guys, their contact details will be in the footnotes. Let's talk about some of the other crops you're gonna be working with, Sadya? And then then we'll wind up.

Sadia Ahmed:

So our entire focus currently is on perennial crops. So anything that goes into the ground and stays there for longer than a year. So if we started in apples, we're then going to move into pears, apricots, plums, we're also looking at things potentially, like teas, coffees, avocados, citrus, we're pretty open. I mean, we've got a list of 20 crops that we think we can realistically go into fairly easily from our starting point. And then we'll see about going into other crops going forward. Antony, do you want to add anything else to that?

Antony Yousefian:

No, focus. Mistake I didn't need before, right? You want me to answer the question, mistake - focus.

Rob Ward:

Well, you've got a big idea, but you focus on launching, get it going in apples so that gets going. Finally, both of you have achieved an awful lot already in your lives, and you can achieve a hell of a lot more going forward, I'm certain of. Who are the top couple of people that you would like to thank in how you've got here?

Antony Yousefian:

It's a turning point for me was when I was in the banking side, and a gentleman called Ben Hutchinson, it was my sales calleague, the desk manager. And we basically were building up the sales and trading platform there, we just were very frustrated by you know, we wanted to do more and have more impact. And this is the person I was looking up to. And he just left and joined, he left and said I'm gonna leave this really well paid job, I'm going to leave this. I'm not happy, I'm gonna do something more impactful. And he joined a tech startup business which was fantastic. And that just inspired me. If you're not happy in what you're doing on a daily basis, don't just go with that. Yeah, so inspired me to go as well.

Rob Ward:

I love that. And obviously the financial part is hardwired within this Bx model that you learned in the trade. And also it's a tech startup. So that's the perfect combo. Sadia, what's your top personal?

Sadia Ahmed:

Well, you've excluded family so that's fun. I think I would have to thank pretty much all the lecturers and guys who I came across while I was at Imperial. They really helped form my curiosity and my desire to find things out. And then some of the great business leaders who I've worked with over the years, who've helped me become who I am today and how I like to operate and work. So people like Steven Emmett, Rob Hughes, yeah, I I could go on but no man's an island.

Antony Yousefian:

Sadia, this isn't an award speech, you know.

Sadia Ahmed:

I can keep going. There's not a single person that's the problem.

Rob Ward:

wonderful thing about farming is that actually is a big family and if the more we work together and think of it like that more will make big progress. It's been wonderful meeting you again guys and congratulations a bx keep the LinkedIn footage going we all love it. Good luck with everything. And thank you again for today's call. Look forward to see you again soon. Thank you all right.

Iliyana Dimitrova:

Thanks very much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe give us a five star review and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues. For more information and takeaways from this episode, please visit forward food dot tech. See you next time.