Disrupting agriculture through agri-tech in West Africa presents numerous opportunities to create efficiency and increase food production, however transforming this traditional industry is not without challenges – Paul Adepoju.
Many start-ups have tried and failed, we now take a look at five innovative ventures disrupting agriculture in West Africa through agri-tech, overcoming hurdles in an attempt to modernism one of the oldest industries in West Africa.
Fresh Direct NG
This is an agricultural technology company which grows produce within shipping containers. An urban farm within the heart of Abuja, within a 20ft shipping container, Fresh Direct NG can grow the same produce as a football pitch and a half. The startup recently impressed the judges at the She Leads Africa Demo Day 2016 considering the significant potential of founder Angel Adelaja’s company to disrupt the African agriculture and import industry. Adekaja recently received a N2,000,000 cash prize presented by Guaranty Trust Bank.
This is a startup which has received numerous accolades including close mentor-ship relationship with Richard Branson. Verdant, founded by Nasir Yammama offers solutions to support rural farmers for improved food production using mobile phones. The start-up provides agricultural extension, market information, managerial support, and access to financial services to rural farmers with novel, yet simple, mobile technologies.
Verdant is able to bring together all the stakeholders and major players in the agricultural value chain under one platform. This involves not only the farmer, buyers and the agri-industry but also research agencies, donor organisations, governments and financial institutions.
“We turn information into insights for the farmers and present it to them in a convenient manner that enables precise decision making on the farm. Farmers are offered unique access to markets using mobile phones. Our sole aim is to help farmers gain more productivity and value out of their farming and thereby guarantee food security and improve living standards,” explains Yammama.
Farmerline is a platform that is focused on Ghana’s smallholder farmers. It links farmers to markets, finance, inputs and equipment services via technology. They provide a range of supply chain innovation products and services that help small-scale farmers and organizations that work with them to benefit from such solutions.
The vision of the company is to empower small-scale farmers across Africa to become financially prosperous and more entrepreneurial in their farming ventures.
The startup builds mobile voice services that provide timely and improved agricultural information access and better communication channels for small-scale farmers and agricultural workers through their mobile phone in any local language. As a service specifically focused on smallholder farmers and organizations that need more access to these farmers, the startup is able to use its technology to connect farmers to markets, finance, weather forecast, new farming tips, inputs dealers and equipment services. This helps farmers to increase their yield and income.
AgroData is an agritech company specializing in precision agriculture. The company aims to support and improve tropical farming with the creatively use of spatial data and processed agricultural information and agricultural research data.
The idea for startup came to the founder, Olumide Ogunbanjo, from one of the recommendations of the MSc thesis he submitted to ITC, University of Twente, Netherlands.
“We have a fully functional office in Ibadan with full time staff and two demonstration farms. One at Saala Orile (Off Aiyetoro yewa), Ogun State – 7.5 acres and the other at Oloosun Village (Off Ibadan- Iseyin Road), Oyo State – 25 acres. We are set to improve and positively affect tropical farming in Nigeria,” Olumide Ogunbanjo the founder told AppsAfrica. “AgroData is set to improve tropical farming in Nigeria /West Africa. We are taking it a step at a time. We have the technical capabilities and we need support to scale in good time” he added.
The team at esoko have built what they describe as the most powerful platform for connecting to farmers. Esoko is basically a communication tool for businesses, government, NGOs and others to connect with farmers. The product offerings include web and mobile apps, original agricultural content, and on-the-ground deployment services. They are ideal for clients’ marketing, monitoring and advisory needs.
The for-profit outfit’s mission is to make agriculture a profitable business for smallholder farmers.
“Though we’ll geek out any day about supply chain inefficiencies and organizational cost savings, we live for the human part of this work. We love stories of our weather forecasts saving children’s lives when their parents know not to send them to school during a flood, of market price information building trust in marriages, and of the right extension information saving the farm – and a farmer’s family” explains a staffer.