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Four agritech startups to watch in 2024

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In recent decades, African countries have seen a rise in climate events, which are negatively impacting agricultural output.

Since 1961, there has been a 34% decline in the continent's productivity, which is higher than any other continent, according to Sisonke Mgwebi, consulting analyst at Frost and Sullivan.

Moreover, researchers argue that global warming boosts insect population and appetite, and increases their metabolic rate, thereby causing them to consume more.

Such issues carry a big risk for the economy, given the World Economic Forum states that agriculture accounts for 35% of Africa's GDP and provides employment for half of its people.

However, agricultural technologies (agritech) are gaining traction as a means of promoting food security and protecting farmer incomes as well as supporting the sustainable development of a rapidly expanding continent.

The main technologies aiding climate-proof farming on the continent center around the use of mobile phones, apps, sensors, drones, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and protected production infrastructure.

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four agritech startups that are making a difference in the communities they serve, and which are to be watched in 2024.

These startups are leveraging technology to address key challenges in African agriculture, such as market inefficiencies, low productivity, and lack of access to information and finance.

1. Hello Tractor (Nigeria)

Hello Tractor is a platform that provides affordable tractor rental services to smallholder farmers. When a farmer books a service, they do not get just a tractor, they get a driver that will service the fields as well.

Hello Tractor connects farmers with tractor owners and agents who provide timely and affordable mechanization services.  (Source: Hello Tractor).
Hello Tractor connects farmers with tractor owners and agents who provide timely and affordable mechanization services.
(Source: Hello Tractor).

The platform uses agents to book the tractor service for farmers, and to group the demand into batches. Then, when a large group of farmers need a tractor at the same time, that tractor can service large plots of land more efficiently.

Hello Tractor was founded in 2014 by social entrepreneur Jehiel Oliver. The app cuts down on the labor and the drudgery long associated with farming, making it more appealing and lucrative for the next generations.

2. Twiga Foods (Kenya)

Twiga Foods is an e-commerce platform that uses technology to deliver high-quality foods, products and retail services across Africa.

The Kenya-headquartered agritech startup collaborates with 140,000 vendors and more than 1,000 farmers, and has a huge workforce across 12 cities.

Twiga Foods is operational in Kirinyaga, Machakos, Kiambu, Meru and Embu, among other Kenyan counties.

Founded in 2014 by Grant Brooke and Peter Njonjo, the company focuses on offering affordable prices and fast logistics. Having started out with a goal of exporting bananas from Kenya, it has since expanded its operations to include a broader range of produce and services.

However, late last year, Njonjo resigned from the company's board of directors, saying that there was "very little value" he could contribute to the company at that point.

The news came after the startup announced that Njonjo would take a six-month sabbatical to focus on personal matters.

Twiga Foods was founded in 2014 by Grant Brooke and Peter Njonjo.   (Source: Twiga Foods).
Twiga Foods was founded in 2014 by Grant Brooke and Peter Njonjo.
(Source: Twiga Foods).

In 2020, Brook also announced that he would be stepping down from his executive director role but would remain on the companyís board of directors.

Despite these changes, the company managed to close a US$35 million funding round in December 2023, which allowed it to clear its debts.

3. Aerobotics (South Africa)

Cape Town-based aerial data analytics company Aerobotics, co-founded by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer, uses drones and satellite imagery to provide farmers with data-driven insights into crop health, pest detection and yield estimation.

The company's mission is to use intelligent technology to make farming more fruitful and sustainable.

Aerobotics provides farmers with a birdís-eye view of their farms using aerial imagery captured by drones, and its intelligent software processes this imagery, picking up on various aspects of perennial crop production.

The agritech company operates in 18 countries, with the US being their largest market, followed by South Africa, Australia, Spain and Portugal.

Aerobotics is revolutionizing how farmers manage their crops and contribute to the future of farming.   (Source: Aerobotics).
Aerobotics is revolutionizing how farmers manage their crops and contribute to the future of farming.
(Source: Aerobotics).

"Food security is a global challenge and everyone is being challenged to do more with less. Using the latest AI and different imagery sources, Aerobotics helps the fruit and nut industry make better decisions and improve yields," Aerobotics CEO James Paterson told Fox News Digital in a recent interview.

4. Agrix Tech (Cameroon)

Established in 2018 and co-founded by Adamou Nchange Kouotou, Cameroon-based startup Agrix Tech helps farmers get technical knowledge to assist them in implementing a better crop disease control plan on their farms.

The app then uses AI to automate business plans for farmers, which helps them access loans from different financial institutions.

Agrix Tech Co-Founder and CEO Adamou Nchange Kouotou.   (Source: Agrix Tech).
Agrix Tech Co-Founder and CEO Adamou Nchange Kouotou.
(Source: Agrix Tech).

Agrix Tech's business involves three elements: Firstly, Cameroonian farmers can download the app and get resources to help them adopt a better crop disease management strategy for their farm and therefore become more productive.

The app lets farmers scan unhealthy crops by recording a video, which is then analyzed using machine-learning techniques, and then farmers are given treatment recommendations.

Secondly, the app helps farmers use their automated business plans to apply for financing from financial institutions in Cameroon.

Thirdly, the app bundles a number of services together to provide farmers with everything they need, from financing to farm inputs, advice, insurance and market access.

These four African agritech startups are leading innovation, economic growth, and sustainability, not only on the continent, but also globally.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Image by Freepik.

ó Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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