African Agricultural Tech Companies Scan: Focus on Planting Decisions

webnexttech | African Agricultural Tech Companies Scan: Focus on Planting Decisions
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According to the World Hunger Education Service, approximately 27% of the population in Africa, spanning 54 countries, is considered to be “severely lacking in food security,” with around 20% of the continent’s 1.2 billion people experiencing malnutrition.Surprisingly, Africa holds 60% of the world’s non-arable land.
One reason for this situation is that more than a third of African countries are ruled by dictators who do not prioritize ensuring that everyone receives an adequate amount of food.
Another reason is that much of Africa’s agriculture is subsistence farming, which is not very efficient.
To address these challenges, an increasing number of African agricultural tech startups are working to shift the continent towards feeding its own population, with the possibility of exporting surplus products for profit.
AgFunder News compiled a list of 99 startups changing the face of agriculture in Africa.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 of these agricultural tech startups that are using innovative technologies to improve the agricultural environment (sources from resopp-sn.org).
Companies Increasing Farmer Knowledge Experience and knowledge are essential for farmers to invest in their land, grow crops, and integrate into the shared economy, environment, and health of society.
In the current agricultural landscape, providing farmers with knowledge and experience has become crucial.
Founded in 2015, London-based startup Wefarm has developed an artificial intelligence-powered learning and knowledge-sharing platform with more than 660,000 small-scale farmer users worldwide, including countries in East Africa like Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.
The platform uses a crowdsourcing algorithm to match farmers with various problems they face and their corresponding solutions, such as addressing soil erosion on a coffee farm.
Wefarm claims that its platform can find the best solution from a range of suitable options and provide feedback within six minutes.
The concept is similar to that used by one of the world’s largest agricultural tech startups, Farmers Business Network.
Wefarm also provides special seeds and fertilizers to its platform members and has raised a total of $20.9 million in funding.
Another African agricultural tech startup, UjuziKilimo, founded in Nairobi in 2015, offers interactive SMS advice and detailed farm scheduling to farmers.
The company, whose name means “knowledge” or “experience” in Swahili, provides weather updates and precision agricultural tips based on sensor-collected data.
The platform’s machine learning and data analytics can provide solutions in less than two minutes, even faster than Wefarm.
Forbes Africa has dubbed UjuziKilimo the “Uber for farmers.” Companies Providing Geographic Information to Farmers Agricultural planting systems have distinct geographical variations, and geographic information systems (GIS) offer significant advantages over traditional methods in assisting with agricultural planting.
The following companies utilize geographic spatial information to provide precise services to farmers.
Founded in 2014 in South Africa, Aerobotics, with a total investment of $2.7 million, uses drones and satellite images for precise pest and disease detection in orchards.
The company can zoom in on individual trees and collect data on tree height, health, volume, and canopy area.
The use of geographic spatial information is becoming increasingly common, with small satellite companies like Planet leading this market.
The aerial platform uses artificial intelligence to analyze images for issue detection.
Farmers use an application with GPS coordinates to locate and record individual issues on the ground.
SyeComp, established in Ghana in 2009, is developing a comprehensive geographic survey and mapping system using optical and radar remote sensing technologies, as well as images acquired from drones.
The product range includes farm maps, localized weather forecasts, and even a mobile credit solution called mFarmPay, which generates credit scores for farmers based on collected data.
Delivering funds directly to farmers is a key goal for many African agricultural tech startups.
African Agricultural Financing Companies Despite information asymmetry and a single-channel source, several financial institutions struggle with incomplete understanding of the production, sales, costs, profits, and risks associated with agricultural entities.
Nevertheless, some African agricultural financing companies are making new attempts.
Founded in Nigeria in 2016, Farmcrowdy, with a funding of $1.4 million, is a collaborative food production platform connecting lenders (micro-investors) with farmers.
Lenders use the platform to find the type of farm they want to invest in, such as agriculture, poultry, or dairy.
Once the farmer enters the harvest cycle (a fixed time for poultry farms), Farmcrowdy helps the farmer sell their products.
The company then pays profits, distributing 40% to the farmer, 40% to the sponsor, and retaining the remaining 20% as a fee.
Kenya hosts a significant portion of African agricultural tech startups, including the fintech startup FarmDrive, established in Nairobi in 2014 with an undisclosed source of funding.
The company operates a credit scoring system connecting local financial institutions with eligible farmers.
It provides loans to those without traditional credit scores, a common practice in “third-world countries.” Unlike manual loan approvals, this mobile platform combines extensive personal, social, environmental, and agricultural data, using machine learning to assess farmers’ creditworthiness and identify those most likely to default on loans.
Founded in Nairobi in 2016, APOLLO Agriculture has raised $1.6 million, utilizing machine learning, remote sensing, and mobile phone technology to help farmers maximize profits and minimize credit risks.
By assessing credit risk, the company combines the services of FarmDrive and Farmcrowdy.
Using data collected from satellites, soil conditions, farmer practices, and crop yields, APOLLO Agriculture provides personalized information services to farmers, down to their specific location.
Companies Providing Supply Chain Management Agricultural products, with their weak resistance to natural risks, demand effective models in the agricultural supply chain to reduce risks.
Modern Agricultural Supply Chain Management (MASCM) is an advanced management model based on the study of modern agricultural logistics.
It not only studies the logistics configuration of agricultural production itself but also researches the scientific flow of pre-production, production, and post-production logistics to achieve an organic connection of supply, production, transportation, processing, and sales, forming a satisfactory system optimization operation state between pre-production, production, post-production, and the market.
The following company is an illustrative example.
Founded in 2013, iProcure, with approximately $1 million in venture capital, is a Nairobi-based startup providing a multi-faceted market information platform for supply chain management, monitoring sales prices in remote areas, and supporting built-in mobile payments.
The company also assists with warehousing, using predictive algorithms to ensure essential commodities never run out while managing last-mile delivery.
On the other hand, iProcure can help retailers identify real-time geographically based purchasing patterns, enabling them to provide targeted services and discounts to farmers.
Companies Providing Water Source Management Africa has abundant water resources, but their seasonal distribution and uneven regional distribution require proper management.
In agricultural production activities, water resources are indispensable.
Futurepump, a Kenyan agricultural tech company established in 2011, utilizes innovative technology to help farmers address water issues during the dry season.
Surprisingly, alongside war, poverty, and hunger, access to water resources is a serious problem in Africa, and innovative technologies can offer solutions.
Leveraging ample sunlight in Africa, Futurepump, founded in 2011, initially invested in solar energy.
Farmers make a one-time investment to purchase a ground-level water pump, consisting of three parts: photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity to power a DC motor, a flywheel component connecting to the pump, and a reciprocating piston pump.
The system can absorb one liter of groundwater per second to irrigate surrounding crops.
Here’s a case of a farmer named Jafus: “I used to irrigate with buckets, but it was inefficient because the buckets had small capacities.
I also tried the MoneyMaker water pump, but it was too labor-intensive, so I spent a lot of money hiring people to help me pump water.
I also tried using petrol, but it cost $10 a day, which was too expensive.
So, if I didn’t have the Futurepump water pump, I don’t think I would be farming in the dry season now because it’s too hot.
With the Futurepump water pump now, I know I will have a good harvest.” Reservable Drones As modern technology advances, the application of agricultural drones varies worldwide, with an increasing proportion of their use in agricultural production.
Apart from seeding, monitoring, and capturing crop growth images, drones also have significant applications in grain storage.
After using agricultural robots to harvest crops, one might want to store them in a safe place that can be quickly located and counted.
DroneScan, founded in 2014 in Durban, South Africa, is a rapid inventory check system for warehouses.
It has two types of inventory counters: DroneScan Hadeda and DroneScan Buffalo.
Hadeda is named after a local bird and serves as both a supplementary drone for existing warehouse systems and a complete solution, consisting of a flying drone, software, and documentation (quotes from resopp-sn).
Buffalo is named after its red trumpet-shaped sensor.
It doesn’t actually fly; instead, it is mounted on a forklift that uses horizontal and vertical movements to position and calculate the number of pallets, scanning barcodes.
Conclusion In African agricultural technology, agricultural networks and the sharing of best practices are crucial.
More startups are focusing on the collective interests of small-scale farmers.
A McKinsey report indicates a stark contrast between the overall decline in Africa’s banking sector and the growth of agricultural technology companies.
Therefore, African agricultural tech companies primarily focus on investing in data management, increasing farmers’ knowledge, expanding channels to obtain capital, and addressing severe issues such as drought and food shortages rather than seeking the best avocado toast and avocado butter.
Also read: 5 Business Opportunities in The Agriculture Industry

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