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Monsanto closes first startup deal in Brazil

The biotech giant is backing Grão Direto, a platform digitizing the grain buying and selling chain.

Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV) has made its first direct investment in Brazil in Grão Direto, a platform digitizing the grain buying and selling chain.

Alongside Canary and the creators of OpenVC fund, Monsanto will invest R$ 2.3 million in the development and growth of the Minas Gerais-based venture in what is the first direct investment for MGV since its inception in 2011.

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Grão Direto offers a web platform for computers and smartphone applications, which helps farmers and buyers find the best deals with much more efficiency and security.

The main proposition of the platform is creating a more agile, practical and secure process for grain sales, currently done over the phone.

"Buyers currently contact farmers by telephone to trade grain. This process takes a lot of time and money. At Grão Direto, buyers and sellers with greater potential to do business are connected through the system and can directly negotiate their prices, delivery conditions, deadlines and any other important aspects for closing. The negotiation can be securely done through the system," says Alexandre Borges, founder at Grão Direto.

The startup launched its application about 18 months ago and the platform has more than 1,300 registered grain producers based in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Goiás. On the buyers' side, there are more than 70 companies that have used the platform from cooperatives to feed factories and brokers.

With the new capital, Grão Direto wants to further accelerate the development of its products and services, in addition to setting up partnerships with other technology companies and financial institutions to enhance the business chain around grain with technology.

The funding will also be used to expand its operation into other key grain producing and purchasing regions of Brazil, which will in turn require more staff.

Back in 2016, Monsanto and Microsoft formed a partnership to invest in technology startups focusing on the agribusiness segment in Brazil.