Why Digitize The Grain Trade?

By an agriculture industry insider, disrupting grain trade inefficiencies across three continents Egor Kirin, CEO of Agro.Club, Inc.

Grain is an essential product to global agriculture and sustainable food security. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Agricultural Outlook 2021-2030, "about 17% of cereal production is traded internationally, with shares for single commodities ranging from 9% for rice to 25% for wheat." Grain trade helps us respond to possible food shortages due to climate, geopolitical, resource and other challenges. It contributes to the prosperity of farmers, consumers and the whole agricultural industry.

For example, in Brazil, China, Russia, the United States and Canada, cereal farming is one of the main elements of agriculture and has high export potential. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, world grain trade from 2022 to 2023 is forecast at 472 million tonnes and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development projects that it will reach 542 million tonnes by 2030.


In recent years, global grain markets have faced increased volatility, which has affected all sides of the food chain. I believe that the industry, which has long maintained its conservatism, must transform and become more transparent and adaptable to the rapid changes of our current times. Modern technologies and processes that allow more efficient management, marketing, commerce, logistics and finances could help solve these new challenges.

Technology Solutions

The introduction of innovative technologies can help optimize trade processes, increasing the quantity and quality of transactions and the level of coordination, engagement and responsibility of the participants. At the moment, only a fraction of companies automate their business processes with innovative IT tools, but the number is growing. I have found that those who integrate technology tools typically use several programs simultaneously, where each performs a set function that collectively provides a holistic and integrated approach. Here are some examples.

• ERP Software

A grain supplier must operate at an exceptional level of efficiency and satisfy his customers' needs. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a type of software that helps organizations maintain productivity and eliminate human mistakes.

While selecting the ideal ERP system for your business requires time, the effort is worthwhile, in my experience. The first step is to ascertain the demands and requirements of your organization. Establish your priorities and compare the advantages and disadvantages of various ERP products. The next factor should be the potential product's compatibility with other applications and software used in your company. Make sure to read reviews of the solution and the company that provides it, and inquire about software updates and support services you'll need in the future in order to ensure that your system lasts a long time.

• CTRM Systems

Commodity trading and risk management (CTRM) software tools are designed for companies involved in commodity trading, including grains. Since commodities are traded on platforms similar to a stock exchange, their prices fluctuate, so companies need to manage the risks. When integrated with ERP systems or supply chain suites, this tool manages financial activities related to grain buying and selling and can track demand and inventory availability. The main drawbacks of these systems are their price and inflexibility, and they can be complicated to integrate with already existing enterprise software.

• Grain Marketplaces

Modern farmers can easily reach their markets and buyers thanks to online platforms. (Full disclosure: My company offers this service, as do others.) Although digital B2B commerce is not as prevalent in agriculture as it is in retail, it can open up new prospects at the local or international levels so farmers may get the best price from a wider range of potential customers. In the last five to seven years, there has been a growth of digital marketplaces for crop and Ag input trade. Some of them fail, while some stay and develop into comprehensive and holistic solutions. However, these ecosystems are still limited in terms of payments, paperwork, logistics and customer checks.

• Fintech Tools

I believe the agriculture sector can really benefit from embedded finance. One of the biggest issues for smaller farmers and grain buyers is getting access to financing. They frequently lack the resources to buy agricultural inputs or to finance a good deal. Because of this, more AgTech startups are beginning to provide their clients with fintech solutions, while more investors are opting for output-supply linkages that directly help the farmer with increased income.


I will conclude that the grain trade digitalization process is in its first stage, as it still depends on additional services like proper storage, trouble-free transportation, accurate documentation, quality analysis and convenient payment instruments. If farmers want to make deals without a chain of intermediaries, they need access to really user-friendly tools and processes. I believe that when leaders in the industry begin adopting these solutions at scale and growers deploy success-proven innovative techniques, that is when we'll really begin to mitigate the risks of food supply shortages or disruptions.