Raiz, a technological innovation in service of small producers
The idea behind Raiz (former Raiz Capixaba) was born in 2018, in the Brazilian southeast. Capixaba is the name given to people born in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, and the word itself comes from the tupi word for field or land ready for planting. There isn’t a more precise term to define José Eduardo and his partner Flavio’s startup, who two years ago decided to dedicate themselves to valuing the work of small organic farmers from their region.
José Eduardo and Flávio developed their social impact business’ concept, designed to facilitate the work of agriculturalists. On one hand, they started by increasing their number of connections and looking for investment companies that could buy into their idea. On the other, they met with their state’s organic farmers, usually volunteering in local fairs, to generate trust between them. “What makes the difference is the relationship we built with the producers ”, said José Eduardo, convinced that he, his partner and their team are contributing to the cultural exchange necessary between rural producers and urban companies.
After training himself and analyzing carefully the needs of companies that the small producers need to meet, Raiz designed a system to track the production of organic farms and offer this information to the companies in a direct, transparent way, without the need for middlemen. “We sell production data and information to companies. It suits them, because we can answer questions like: who has this product? How much? Where is this producer? And in addition to the peace of mind we provide to companies, we follow every producer in the process”.
In this manner, Raiz identifies the real needs of each company and takes this information to small producers so they can produce predetermined amounts for commercialization. “Our system makes predictions on the production of fruits and vegetables through artificial intelligence in order to plan the production according to the determined demand”, he claimed
Almost 70 companies today – subdivided into four categories: restaurants, schools, supermarkets or markets and organic food delivery companies – from the state of Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro, have given a positive response to the initiative. The initiative also benefits between 120 and 130 families of producers.
This system’s advantages are numerous. Among them, it is worth mentioning the limits imposed on food waste and the increase in the income of small producers, owing to their connection with the market. Planning the production, which Raiz does in collaboration with the agriculturalists, also guarantees prices for both buyers and sellers. This empowers the producer and he becomes co-responsible for the sale of his own products.
“Raiz’s perspective is from the field to the city, not the other way around”, the startup’s team shared, who works to always keep in touch with certified organic producers in their state. Today the startup wants to expand this responsible production network over all of Brazil and has already mapped out every certified small agriculturalist, association and collective. For now, over a third of organic producers in Espírito Santo are a part of this cog of good practices, implemented in the search for a countryside where producers are better integrated into the market. An inclusion that actually benefits every actor in the region’s food system.
 The language spoken by local indigenous people