Rakuten and Telefarm connect consumers with producers of pesticide-free, pesticide-reduced produce

Ensuring stable revenue for producers while also supporting the
development and independence of new farmers

Tokyo, 2017-Apr-06 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Telefarm Co., Ltd. today ( April 5, 2017) announced the launch of “Ragri,” an internet-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) service that connects consumers with producers of pesticide-free, pesticide-reduced and other agricultural produce.

CSA is a new framework for agriculture in which producers plant crops based on pre-paid orders placed by consumers for specific produce, thereby facilitating planned production and revenue stabilization. In general, agriculture is greatly affected by the timing and quantities of harvests, price trends and external factors such as the weather. With CSA, the sale and purchase agreements are concluded once consumers’ consent regarding such risks has been obtained.

Ragri is based on the Telefarm Remote Farming service that was operated by Telefarm, in which Rakuten announced it had invested in June 2016. The two companies have collaborated to significantly overhaul the Ragri website and service.

Much of the agricultural produce provided through Ragri places particular emphasis on being pesticide-free or pesticide-reduced, or otherwise organic or specially cultivated produce. Users select the produce and producer from which they want to order, and await the harvest while remotely managing the cultivation of the produce from seed or seedling in virtual fields online. Users are able to check up on how the cultivation of the actual produce is progressing through photographs and comments sent by the producers. Once the produce has reached harvest, it is delivered directly from the farms to the locations designated by the users.

Users will be able to use Ragri via Ragri’s PC and smartphone websites by logging in with their Rakuten membership IDs, and will therefore also be able to use their Rakuten membership IDs to pay their Ragri fees via the Rakuten Pay payment service, meaning it will also be possible to earn and use Rakuten Super Points. Furthermore, in cases where typhoons or other natural disasters make it impossible to carry out the harvest, or in cases where the minimum crop yield set for each crop is not reached, users will be granted Rakuten Super Points with a value equivalent to the cultivation fees paid*1. Rakuten and Telefarm are also exploring enhancements to Ragri’s services in the future such as adding a feature enabling users to communicate with producers, and introducing plans for combining a large number of different vegetable items in small quantities.

In addition to providing a platform connecting consumers and producers, Ragri will also support new farmers. Telefarm has already begun recruiting and training new farmers in Ehime Prefecture, and plans to roll out the program nationwide in the future. Alongside promoting CSA through Ragri, Rakuten and Telefarm are also proactively promoting new agriculture and contributing to resolving challenges such as labor shortages and the growing amount of deserted arable land.

*1 Excludes the seed / seedling fee

About the Ragri service

Name: Ragri
Service launch: April 5, 2017
Fee schedule:
– The first payment comprises of a seed / seedling fee (first time only) and a cultivation fee, which are paid at the time of the agreement
– From the first payment onward, the cultivation fee is paid every 30 days in accordance with the agreement period (*The usage fees and number of payments will differ depending on the type of crop, cultivation period and producer)
– Produce delivery is included in the cultivation fee
Payment method: Rakuten Pay (a payment service that utilizes the Rakuten Member ID and supports a wide variety of credit cards)

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten invests in remote farming service provider Telefarm as part of the agriculture reforms it intends to promote

Aiming to contribute to regional revitalization with agriculture support through the internet

Tokyo, 2016-Jun-27 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. (TOKYO: 4755) today announced that it has invested in remote farming service provider Telefarm Co., Ltd.

Since September 2010, Telefarm has been providing a remote cultivation service for organic vegetables which incorporates gamification. The company carries out “Community Supported Agriculture” through the internet, and by connecting consumers and farmers, allows consumers to obtain vegetables they have overseen themselves, and provides farmers with stable revenue and sales channels.

With the working population in the agricultural industry steadily declining, coupled with Japan’s aging population, labor shortages in the industry are becoming a serious problem, and the amount of deserted arable land is increasing every year. Farmers are facing serious challenges, with initial investment and unstable revenues posing obstacles for new farmers, and the securement of stable sales channels and a shortage of successors presenting challenges for established, small-scale farmers.

Since its founding, Rakuten has upheld the philosophy of empowering people and society through the internet, and it intends to bring innovative solutions to solve challenges in agriculture, and contribute to the development of the industry. Rakuten decided to invest in Telefarm as part of the agriculture reforms it intends to promote.

Going forward, Rakuten will explore the development of new services in the agriculture field through the internet, while aiming to contribute to regional revitalization through the utilization of deserted arable land and support for new farmers.

About Telefarm

Name: Telefarm Co., Ltd.
URL: http://www.telefarm.net
Address: Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture
Representative: Managing Director and President, Shinobu Endo
Established: April 2007
Capital Stock: 32,000,000 yen (As of April 30, 2016)

Details of Business:  
1.    Agriculture revitalization business that uses a web-based remote cultivation system
2.    Production and sale of fruit trees, vegetables and grains
3.    Storage, transportation and sale of agricultural produce
4.    Manufacture and sale of seeds, seedlings and materials
5.    Undertaking of farm work on commission
6.    Planning and management of farming experiences and other events, and all business affairs related to the above

Source: Rakuten