ADVERTORIAL | Technology can help food distribution and security-September 9, 2020

Robert Kibo Thompson

KINGSTON, Jamaica -September 9, 2020:There was a time when the phrase “food distribution and technology” meant cold storage and transportation. However, that term has taken on new meaning, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricts persons’ movements and interactions.

Established in July 2020, OEXONE is an online platform which allows farmers, manufacturers, and even retailers to upload and list their crops and products. They then take orders; deliver and receive payments directly into their bank accounts from buyers around the world. OEXONE, which stands for ‘One Economic Exchange’, was established as a non-denominational, non-regional platform of trade and commerce; and manages payment services to handle local, cross-border import and export transactions.

“I saw a significant opportunity to create value by launching a platform which simultaneously supports businesses and the community; as well as Jamaicans in the diaspora, institutional investors and local persons, in a fair and secured environment to generate ‘economic empowerment for everyday people’,” said founder, Robert Kibo Thompson.

“Since launching the platform,, we have seen younger farmers coming on board, because they see technology as being critical when it comes to distributing food and also food security. They are looking at how technology can give them better leverage to greater market access and also payment,” he added.

Mr Thompson explained that the platform, which was 10 years in the making, along with other technologies, can benefit Jamaica in terms of food security and distribution.

“OEXONE sees that monitoring climate and data processes, using tools that connect specific institutional data points with stakeholders and producers, will provide the leverage we need to have a proper food security strategy that works for all. We have embraced innovation by deploying the latest technologies to transform traditional food security systems and increasing capacity to trade competitively in the global value chain,” he stated.

Mr Thompson believes that the link between technology and food distribution has become even more important at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how people purchase food.

“COVID exposed the reality that there is a food security issue. Therefore, we need to ensure that food gets to everyone safely and as affordable as possible. This is why we have been using our network, to assist customers and vendors to manage their goods most efficiently, throughout their supply chains,” he explained.

Krishna Badaloo, Director of Agribusiness and Marketing Distribution, Agricultural Services Unit in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, notes that technology also has a role to play in assisting farmers with their crops.

“Technology can assist farmers from a software standpoint, as well as in terms of analytics and data collection. The farmer can use data to know which crop to plant and the quantity, in order to ensure that he is providing the right amount to the market. This data-driven approach would also help with distribution, as he would know what specific produce his markets would need,” he explained.

He added that technology also plays an important role in food distribution, because it allows farmers and food distributors to employ the “value chain approach”, which would enable them to produce what the consumers want and need.

“Farmers would no longer plant randomly. Technology would allow them to produce crops to meet the needs of the consumer in Jamaica and the diaspora. For example, if Steve McDonald of in Canada informs them that there is a demand for more breadfruits, they would use the software to work out how much breadfruit is needed. This would help them to produce enough, and reduce wastage as well. In other words, you begin with what the consumers want and quantify it to what you grow on the farm.”

Collin Burgess, IT Infrastructure Manager at MC Systems, points out that technology can play an important role in food distribution, by allowing vulnerable groups to have access to nutritious meals.

“Software can be used to map where the need exists and what those needs are,” he explained. “It can also help in the planning effective harvests and post-harvest practices, to minimise food loss. Technology can also be valuable in determining the setting of competitive prices, so that persons can actually afford to purchase what they need.”

Mr Burgess added that: “Technology, such as the ‘Internet of Things’, will additionally assist with food distribution; and, by extension, food security.

“For example, John Deere has invested in technology to assist farmers to determine how best to distribute their crops across markets; and how the quality of soil affects what is planted. In other words, technology is enhancing how food is planted, distributed, and stored, which is good for all of us in the long run.”

With technology playing a greater role in food security and distribution, Mr Thompson maintains that online payment will also play an even greater role in the process.

“We have found that since launching OEXONE, there has been tremendous response as it removes the intimidating factor of e-commerce. It has removed the difficulty, and reduces the cost of setting up individual banking and payment gateway relations. We have integrated various technologies to ensure that it works and the response, both locally and overseas, has been good. Technology and food distribution are now twins. That link is here to stay,” he affirmed.

Jamaica Gleaner- KINGSTON, Jamaica -September 9, 2020

Tags: Branson, Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Caribbean, Chief Executive Office of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, oexmarkets, OEXONE PLATFORM

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