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Riverside Research Signs First International Memorandum of Understanding with India’s Tamil Nadu Agricultural University for MarketMaker Pilot

Riverside Research Signs First International Memorandum of Understanding with India’s Tamil Nadu Agricultural University for MarketMakerTM Pilot

3 April 2014

Champaign, IL – Riverside Research announces the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) to pilot the Riverside Research MarketMakerTM program for use in India.

“We have a common interest in the development of a more efficient, diverse, transparent, and ultimately sustainable food system,” says Dr. K.A. Ponnusamy, Director of Extension Education at TNAU. “‘MarketMakerTM India’ will help safely and equitably deploy food from where it is grown to where there is demand, with a particular focus on improving market access on behalf of small and midsized farmers in India. Further, the aim of this project is threefold: to develop an Indian version of MarketMakerTM suitable for use among Indian farmers and food related enterprises; to help Indian farmers profitably participate in market driven value chains within India and in global export markets; and to develop a model program for public-private cooperation to meet the evolving needs of the global agricultural and food distribution markets.”

Riverside Research MarketMakerTM is a web-based information and communication resource developed to give farmers greater access to regional markets by linking them with processors, retailers, consumers, and other food supply chain participants. Designed to revolutionize the food supply chain, it is one of the largest databases of searchable, food industry-related information in the U.S., currently linking producers and consumers in 19 states plus the District of Columbia. The project was first developed by researchers at UIUC and is now being taken forward by Riverside Research, an independent, not-for-profit research institute. Representatives from all three organizations were present at the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Coimbatore, India, on Sunday, January 26, 2014.

Riverside Research has long-term plans to expand MarketMakerTM globally as a means to assist farmers in developing countries gain better access to markets. The India MarketMakerTM pilot will serve as a model for collaborative development in other parts of the world.

“Just two months after inking the licensing agreement, Riverside Research is already making significant progress toward international expansion. Our intentions are clear - to broaden the MarketMakerTM scope from a 19-state partnership to one that encompasses and serves the entire U.S. and the world,” says Randy Sandone of the company’s Computational Science and Engineering Laboratory (CSE Lab). Sandone is now leading technology and business development on the project. “With this partnership, we’ve taken the first step toward realizing our broader vision.” 

“For some time we have been interested in developing a global application for MarketMakerTM. We have always believed it had the potential to help farmers in countries with emerging agricultural economies,” says Darlene Knipe, one of the UIUC project founders and now a member of the Riverside Research professional staff. “We feel fortunate to work with the team from TNAU. They already have a successful track record of developing technology-based information resources for farmers in Tamil Nadu and are the perfect complement to the Riverside Research MarketMakerTM team here in the U.S. I couldn’t be more excited.”

This collaboration was facilitated by the UIUC-led and US Agency for International Development funded “Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services” project. According to Andrea Bohn, the UIUC Modernizing Extension and Advisory Systems (MEAS) project manager, “TNAU has built an impressive portfolio of information and communication technology enriched extension services and has strong institutional relationships with other key stakeholders in India that will pave the way for successful implementation in partnership.”

“Food security and certification has become almost mandatory in food export markets and is rapidly gaining traction in many domestic food markets as well,” says Tom Fenimore, Executive Vice President, Global GAP, a non-governmental organization that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe. “MarketMakerTM is an excellent vehicle for allowing producers of GAP-certified food to access markets demanding such certifications. We are pleased to see that TNAU and Riverside Research will be bringing MarketMakerTM to India. This will bring significant value to producers, markets, and others in the food value chain.”

“Our focus for MarketMakerTM over the next two years is to expand its information and discovery tools, enhance its business-to-business and business-to-consumer functionality, and establish it as a resource center for food producers, supply chains, and markets. The knowledge and breadth of our National Partner Network will enable us to reach out to the food industry to clearly identify and satisfy their needs, and build a foundation that will ultimately serve the global community,” says Glen Salo, CSE Lab Director. “Our work with TNAU will provide direct insight into how we can support food producers and agriculture markets worldwide. Although there may be profound differences, we expect that there will be useful cross-over technologies and solutions that we can co-develop, customize, and share. Furthermore, we are committed to developing a true public-private partnership business model where local and regional food market expertise informs technology development, where those intellectual contributions are rewarded, and where the needs of local food producers and consumers are met.”

Experts reporting to the United Nations General Assembly estimate that by 2050, food production must double to meet the demands of our growing global population. Riverside Research is developing the ideal platform to bring industry communication, public education, and information science solutions to bear on this global challenge,” says Richard Annas, President, Riverside Research. “This partnership with India is just the beginning; we look forward to a new era of growth for the Riverside Research MarketMakerTM project.”

About Riverside Research MarketMakerTM
Originally designed by University of Illinois researchers and licensed by Riverside Research in November of 2013, MarketMakerTM is meant to improve access to emerging markets, facilitate local sourcing of agricultural and seafood products, enhance the efficiency of food distribution value chains, and support agro-economic research in food distribution networks.

Marketing, outreach and subject matter expertise to inform technology development is provided by the Riverside Research MarketMaker Partnership – a national network of Land Grant Universities, Departments of Agriculture, and food and agricultural organizations investing in a coordinated effort to build the MarketMakerTM virtual infrastructure. The site can be found at http://www.foodmarketmaker.com.

© 2014 Riverside Research