Today entrepreneurs have started applying technology in the agricultural sectors to solve some of the biggest problems like drought. A 2016 report from Brookings International, a non-profit organization, farming constitutes 60 per cent of the source of income in Africa. World Bank also estimated that agriculture and agribusinesses in Africa will grow to a trillion-dollar industry by 2030. However, there are endless threats facing this goal such as dry weather, floods, hurricanes, high population, and depressed economies. Agritech companies in conjunction with the government and experts are finding solutions to some of these problems. The following are some of the innovative Agro-tech enterprises in different parts of the continent.
Nigeria: Fresh Direct
Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services is a social agritech approach to sustainable agriculture in Nigeria’s densely populated urban areas. It aims to solve environmental and spatial challenges. It was founded by epidemiologist and entrepreneur, Angel Adelaja and has its headquarters in Abuja. Fresh Direct changed the whole aspect of farming. Instead of relying on rural farming, the farmers can use shipping containers to farm even when they are in urban areas by the use of hydroponics and vertical planting. Allowing farming in the heart of Nigeria’s urban areas which is already populous, allows for a solution in drought and famine.
The new farming technique reduces costs and cut down on the seemingly long distances between farms and the ready markets. Fresh Direct has expanded its operations to Osun State where cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, fish, chicken, and goat farming is taking place. The packaging and processing facilities are on the site thus making the process fast and reliable.
iProcure is the biggest supply chain platform in Africa, founded by Stefano Carcoforo. It links small-scale farmers to manufacturers of agricultural inputs like animal feed, fertilizers, organic farming products, etc. To attract farmers to purchase their products, iProcure allows farmers to buy their farm supplies using mobile purchase. They also give them discounts of between 10 and 20 per cent.
Agrocenta was founded in 2015 by Francis Obirikorang and Michael Ocansey in efforts to improve the agricultural sector in Ghana. This startup provides an online sales platform where small-scale farmers in rural areas trade in an online marketplace. The farmers can comfortably sell their products through online agents, therefore, cutting down the exploitative nature of buying practices. This system helps eliminate the need for middlemen and ensures goods are transported smoothly to the consumers. As a result, farmers generate good income that helps them get armed with adequate raw materials and resources for high local production. Agrocenta also allows farmers to access commodity prices through the platform making it easier to farmers.
South Africa: Yellow Beast
This agritech startup was founded by civil engineers, Pontisho Molestane and Matebele Moshoni. The youth-owned company invents, manufactures, sells and installs irrigation products that have high precision. The micro-irrigation device, Nosets simplified Irrigation, uses artificial intelligence to automate the irrigation process by sensing and interpreting the best in-situ conditions in the soil-crop system. This information on the crop and soil type determine the correct amount of water the plant needs. This ensures less wastage of water, which is a scarce commodity in farming. It also requires less effort from the user who only needs to set up the equipment.
H2O catchers were founded by Jason Les Newmark and Grant Vanderwagen. For the past two years, 8 states of the nine in South Africa, have experienced a disastrous drought. This has resulted from the low levels and the ever-unpredictable rains. This startup, therefore, focuses on the use of fog fresh water for small and large scale farming, sanitation, and irrigation. This ensures that the farmers don’t rely on the water supply from the municipality. Use of fog farming targets farming in a sustainable manner to both the environment and humans. Depending on the size of the catcher and the amount of fog, a typical fog catcher can capture 100 liters to 10,000 liters of fog per day. It also has a prototype catcher out of recycled materials and it’s also trying the option of 3D shells to support the mesh that captures the fog.