The situations around the world have called for many engaging in various modern practices to survive, for instance, agri-tech solutions have been identified to boost access to financing, markets, and input information, and facilitate mechanisation.
The pandemic has shone a light on vulnerabilities in the agriculture sector and underscored the importance of ensuring food security and strengthening the agricultural chain.
Some of the major problems that Nigerian farmers face include limited access to information and the market, insufficient financial support, and logistics and transport issues. However, agri-tech solutions are offering new support for farmers on these challenges.
Utilization of Agri-tech solutions in Nigeria
Financing and Input Access
As traditional financing meets less than 3% of smallholder credit needs globally, crowdfunding is becoming an important financing tool in Africa, with start-ups seeking to connect farmers and investors.
One example is the Nigerian Agri-tech company, Farmcrowdy, which seeks to promote sustainability in the global food chain, and which used to connect farmers with sponsors via a digital platform, is now connecting smallholder farmers to DFIs provided by the government agencies.
They leverage technology to connect farmers to have easy access to farm inputs to lessen the burden of going to the open market in search of inputs every season.
Another funding platform is Payfarmer, an agricultural multipurpose cooperative passionate about bridging the gap between investors and agriculture.
They give investors the opportunity to gain access to a quality asset class and achieve attractive returns in a simple and straightforward way.
With a free Payfarmer account, you will have access to high-profit potential properties that are available to invest in. Investors through this online portal, sit back and watch the progress of farms online while they handle the everyday operations.
They are using their wide range of activities include livestock farming, fish farming, crops plantation, poultry, and piggery to access people’s investments.
Other crowdfunding platforms that have had notable success in Nigeria include Thrive Agric, Payfarmer, PorkVest, Farm Funds Africa, and PorkMoney.
Market Access and Transport
The agriculture sector is exposed to logistical challenges and unnecessary delays at security checkpoints that prevent products from reaching the market on time, which causes post-harvest losses and food wastage along the value chain.
According to the June 2020 report “Responding to the impact of Covid-19 on food security and agriculture in Nigeria” by PwC, around 70% of fresh agricultural product spoils during transit.
As a result, not only do farmers experience losses, but consumers have access to less food at inflated prices.
“Reducing post-harvest losses should be the single, most important priority for the agriculture sector to become more sustainable,” Mukul Mathur, country head of Olam Nigeria, told OBG.
To help tackle this problem, start-ups are connecting farmers directly to the market, or are buying produce from growers in remote areas and selling it in urban centres with the help of technology.
Agriple, for example, connects farmers in Nigeria to consumers, who mostly buy in bulk, via an online platform, and is responsible for coordinating logistics.
FarmyApp, meanwhile, is an online marketplace where farmers list their products before the harvest date, giving them control over prices and production, and creating healthy competition between farmers.
Notably, FarmyApp has allowed Nigerian farmers to continue their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite lockdown restrictions.
Interestingly Farmcrowdy, which used to be a crowdfunding platform has since August 2019 aligned its business models with Sustainable Development Goal 2, to end all forms of hunger while promoting food security across the globe.
Their tech-infused platform drives an enabling environment for farmers and sets up more efficient food distribution channels. Currently, they connect smallholder farmers to access reliable markets that facilitate stakeholder access to maximize profitability in the food value chain.
Farmcrowdy’s FC Foods platform is a one-stop digital marketplace for trading raw agro-products, inputs, and other related commodities. Consumers can conveniently purchase fresh foods products, hygienic livestock products, and other groceries.
Nigerian agri-tech start-ups such as Verdant Agri-Tech are facilitating farmers’ access to information and recommendations about the weather, soil, and market conditions in real-time.
The start-up offers market information, managerial support, agricultural extension, and access to financial services to rural farmers via mobile phone.
Meanwhile, OCP Africa, an enterprise focused on the sustainable development of agriculture in Africa, has adopted an approach that enables agricultural cooperatives and local farmers better communicate with their suppliers and consumers.
Through its app, OCP Africa facilitates the distribution of information on farmers’ inputs to their suppliers, as well as provides access to financing, insurance, and advisory services.
In addition, Farmcrowdy, through their technology-first approach to seed, input, and agronomic analysis and sourcing, gives farmers tools to help them purchase only the best seeds and input, optimize production decisions, identify yield and profit opportunities, and map their farmlands amongst other services, all automatically.
Despite the fact that more than one-third of its labour force is employed in agriculture, Nigeria has one of the least mechanised farming industries in the world, with a tractor density of 0.27 per ha, compared to the 1.5 per ha recommended by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
With a view to increasing mechanised farming in Nigeria, agri-tech start-ups such as Hello Tractor help farmers access tractor services in a collaborative way and at an affordable rate, enabling them to plant on time and boost yields.
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