When talking about African agriculture, high-tech innovations and the digitalization of financial services are not what most people think about. Yet, there is an incredible number of Africa-based start-ups and platforms that are transforming the face of African agriculture as we know it. The Malabo Montpellier Panel’s report on digital agriculture has identified some of those that are leading Africa’s Byte by Byte Revolution in the agriculture sector. This is their story.
Cowtribe in Ghana
Cowtribe was founded in 2016 to deliver animal vaccine and other livestock services and information to last-mile farmers in Africa via a farmer’s phone. The aggregated demand for livestock farming inputs and services creates market incentives for veterinarians and suppliers to service rural communities. CowTribe also sends SMS alerts to farmers with information on disease outbreaks and offers practical advice.
Farmcrowdy, an award-winning Nigerian start-up
Farmcrowdy is an online platform connecting potential investors to farmers through a sponsorship model to fund higher yields for a share of the returns.60 By combining its crowdfunding platform with extension services for the farmers, access to improved inputs, and sales of farm produce for higher value, Farmcrowdy reduces the risk for investors and unlocks previously untapped sources of capital for rural investment.
Hello Tractor in Nigeria
Hello Tractor is another successful venture by a young entrepreneur. Hello Tractor is an IoT solution to increase and optimize tractor activity in Africa. Founded in 2014, the digital solution seeks to connect farmers to tractor owners through a digital application. Hello Tractor’s technology is an off-the-shelf monitoring device that, when fitted onto a tractor, allows equipment owners to manage their machines using an app. Each monitoring device is equipped with an international SIM card, providing GPRS and SMS capabilities for data transmission. Hello Tractor gives smallholder farmers access to machinery which would otherwise be out of reach because of their high cost.
FarmDrive in Kenya
FarmDrive uses mobile phones, alternative data and machine learning to close the critical data gap that prevents financial institutions from lending to creditworthy smallholder farmers. Based on a farm’s data (productivity levels and accounting), as well as satellite, agronomic and local economic data, FarmDrive prepares reports to analyze the creditworthiness and solvency of the beneficiary farmers. FarmDrive’s alternative credit-risk assessment model, a detailed credit profile tool, provides financial institutions with an agriculturally relevant and data-driven model to assess risk and develop loans that fit the needs of smallholder farmers.
myAgro in Mali and Senegal -
myAgro developed a mobile layaway platform allowing farmers to pay on layaway, whenever they have cash available, using their mobile phones. The myAgro system allows farmers to buy myAgro cards and layaway from US$1 to $50 to purchase seed and fertilizer for the planting season. When famers buy myAgro cards, the card codes and amounts are sent by text message to myAgro’s database, and the individual farmers’ accounts are credited by myAgro. myAgro then delivers purchased high-quality seed and fertilizer in bulk at planting time directly to farmers and provides training on best farming practices.
The story of these 5 SMEs transforming Africa’s Agriculture shows promise for an African thriving private sector scene, but will necessitate an enabling environment. Platforms such as AGRF, through their Agribusiness Deal Room and The GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize are a useful tool to do so.
This blog draws from the Malabo Montpellier Panel’s Report: Byte by byte: policy innovation for transforming Africa’s food system with digital technologies