Home » 11 Agritech Startups Enhancing Food Production with Technology in Nigeria

11 Agritech Startups Enhancing Food Production with Technology in Nigeria

by Kehinde Giwa

image source: Pexel

With agritech startups, the agricultural sector can contribute highly to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to perform lavishly than the present, where the sector contributes less than 25% to the country’s GDP currently.

Innovators all over the world are devising means to incorporate technology into agriculture in what is known today as Agri-tech Startups. These startups are springing up like lilies in summer, with each providing solutions, with the use of technology, to mitigate the challenges facing the agricultural sector and to enhance food production.

This article provides a list of agritech startups making strides in the agricultural space, offering insights into their operation models, and how they are solving several challenges facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

Let us begin!

1. Soilless FarmLab

Samson Ogbole- Founder Soilless FarmLabs

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Source: Soilless FarmLabs

Soilless Farm Labs is a food-tech startup founded in 2019 by Samson Ogbole in the capital city of Ogun state, Abeokuta. Soilless FarmLabs (a trademarked name for Eupepsia Place) practices smart agriculture by utilising greenhouses to produce food, particularly crops such as leafy vegetables, bell peppers, cabbages, and lettuce, with hydroponics and aquaponics systems. The agritech startup is transforming the way food is being produced by introducing new technologies to enhance agriculture. With the vision “to ensure a world where food production is not seasonal because hunger is not”, 5Soilless Farm Labs also uses artificial intelligence in irrigation for precision-based farming. 

Since its inception, they have generated an investment of over 18 million naira, with a turnover of 46 million naira in 2020. They also engage in training programmes, teaching young people soilless farming and hydroponics systems. They have partnered with several organisations like  Obasanjo Farms, the Edo State Govt, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the African Development Project.

Samson Ogbole and General Obasanjo

Source: Soilless FarmLabs

Recently, they partnered with the MasterCard Foundation to train about 12,000 young Nigerians for 3 years on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) under the programme theme, Enterprise for Youth in Agriculture (EYIA). The goal is to enhance the long-term sustainability and resilience of food production systems in Nigeria, building greater resilience to climate risks and other shocks that drive food insecurity. So far they have trained over 13,000 students in soilless farming and allowed them to be gainfully self-employed. They are currently running a Work, Learn and Earn project sponsored by the MasterCard Foundation where you can apply and become an in-house resident to learn the different technological innovations to farming.

You can get more information only this training via their website at www.sfarmlab.com. You can also connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and X @Sfarmlab, the founder @Samsonogbole

Read more: A Look at the Growing Agritech Investment Market

2. BIC Farms Concept

Source: BIC Farms Concept

Founded by Adebowale Onafowora in December 2019, BIC Farms concept is an agritech startup which operates with Responsive Dip Irrigation Technology, adopted from a Kenyan startup called RDI. It uses this technology to produce both leafy and fruity vegetables. Gravity pressure tanks supply crops planted in a coco peat medium with nutrient-filled water solution in drips, to ensure the plant gets the right nutrients as well as enough water to grow. In this system, two processes are simultaneously carried out: nutrients and water supply.

BIC Farms are also involved in greenhouses farm setup and sales of hydroponics inputs including, seeds, nutrients fertilisers, growing mediums, irrigation pipes and many more. Their vision is to empower Africa to feed both herself and the rest of the world. They have worked with over 1000 clients, helping them to set up hydroponics farms in different locations across Nigeria.

In 2021, BIC Farms was one of the 12 winners of the $230,000 in seed funding from the Green Skills Innovation Challenge organised by Ashoka and HSBC Holding Plc and was awarded about $20,000 as well as mentorship to scale up their startup. Over the years they have partnered with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI), Ashoka, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Boz man van Zeal to help train and mentor young people in hydroponics and greenhouse farming. In July 2023, BIC Farms partnered with Irigreen, a leading organisation in the drip irrigation sector, to promote the adoption of innovative irrigation systems and techniques in the agricultural value chain. This is achieved through providing sub-surface irrigation hoses that are impervious to clogs and also boast an unparalleled flow rate, while operating at remarkably low pressures, thereby eliminating expensive water pumps for irrigation. 

You can reach them on all social media platforms @bicfarmsconcept and via their website at www.bicfarmsconcept.com

3. Thrive Agric

Source: Thriveagric

Thrive Agric provides support for farmers and farming communities by employing agricultural technology solutions like farm monitoring/mapping to measure the size of a farm and inspect the viability of farmland, especially its soil fertility, texture, and proximity to a water source. They assign field officers to farms from planting till harvest to act as advisory boards to farmers and facilitate the sales of agricultural produce.

Founded in 2017 by Ayodeji Arikawe and Uka Eje, a graduate of Biochemistry from Covenant University, Thrive Agric became fully operational in 2018, with a vision to increase food production by enabling sustainable agriculture starting first with smallholder farmers. The agritech startup train and assist smallholder farmers with inputs financing, development and training, post-harvest services, access to premium markets as well as technology, and social and financial inclusion.

In 2020, Thrive Agric experienced a major setback due to a lack of movement caused by the pandemic. It was difficult for farmers to get inputs and for off-takers to access farm produce, according to an interview with Techcabal. Fortunately, in 2021, they received a major investment of $1.75 million co-investment grant from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) to support 50,000 smallholder women and youth farmers growing rice, maize and soybean in Kaduna, Kebbi, and Kano. In 2023, they Partnered with Heifer International to provide financial support to 125,000 farmers from 8 Northern States in Nigeria through its AYuTe program (Agriculture, Youth and Technology). According to a report by Businessday, Thrive Agric, announced that as of 2023, it had disbursed over $100 million in loans to empower over 500,000 smallholder farmers in Africa. So far, Thrive Agric has raised about US$56.4 million in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors to grow their farmers base to over 500,000 smallholder farmers. 2600 communities have been reached, with 400,000 hectares cultivated, and over 9000 jobs created while actively expanding into new markets, including Ghana, Zambia and Kenya.

You can find them on all social media platforms@thriveagric and visit their website at www.thriveagric.com

4. Hello Tractor

Source: Hello Tractor

Founded in 2014 by Kenyan, Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor is an agritech startup leveraging technology to connect smallholder farmers with tractors and other farm machinery needed for farming operations. It developed cutting-edge software that tractor owners can purchase at an inexpensive fee to monitor their tractor fleet while on lease.  The software offers services like GPS monitoring and fuel monitoring and can scan maintenance needs and access incoming booking requests. The startup began operations in Abuja, Nigeria, and has since expanded within and outside Africa, reaching about 15 countries in the continent, and elsewhere, including Asia and North America, servicing over 800,000 smallholder farmers in these regions.

  

Source: Hello Tractor

Like most agritech startups in Africa, Hello Tractor experienced a major setback during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and was merely breaking even. With funding of about $1.5 million from the Heifer International AYuTe Africa Challenge in 2021, Hello Tractor was able to launch the PAYG and rise above its challenges. Through the app, they have connected over 3,000 tractors and have 1,220 booking agents for smallholder farmers. They have impacted over 500,000 smallholder farmers to date through these tractor services. Hello Tractor has also received funding and support from international organisations, including a $150,000 grant from GSMA in 2022, the Catapult Inclusion Africa Programme and John Deere.

You can visit their website at hellotractor.com or download their app on Playstore by searching for Hello Tractor.

5. Crop2Cash

Source: Google Startup

Crop2Cash provides financial solutions to smallholder farmers in Nigeria. The Ibadan-based startup was founded by Michael Ogundare, Emem Essien, and Seyi Alabi in December 2018. The startup helps these farmers purchase agricultural input and expand into new markets through their CashCard and SupplyBase products.  

CashCard is an Android-based digital ecosystem for smallholder farmers where farmers can receive digital payments and build their financial identities. Farmers can use their simple mobile phones to quickly onboard and access bank loans and insurance services. SupplyBase helps agro-processors manage their supply inventory with farmers and other suppliers. The digitised system processes fast payments from agro-processors to suppliers, tracks delivery, monitors loan repayment, streamlines product quality and makes data-driven decisions. It is hosted on the Google Cloud platform and uses machine learning to provide high security and flexibility for businesses and this helps financial institutions and stakeholders assess the creditworthiness of a business before investing.

The agritech startup has on-boarded more than 100,000 smallholders and helped them to access up to $2.8 million in credit by aiding them in building their financial identities and making them more credit-worthy. The startup has been a recipient of numerous grants from international organisations including Katapult Africa, GSMA, Catalyst Funds, and  Google’s Black Founders Fund and has so far raised about $450,000 in funding. In August 2023, Crop2Cash launched its Crop2Cash marketplace, an online platform for farmers to access and purchase quality inputs from verified vendors.

You can connect with them via X and LinkedIn @crop2cash or visit their website at www.crop2cash.com.ng

Read more: Exploring Agritech Jobs in Nigeria: What You Need to Know

6. Agricorp

Source: Agricorp

Agricorp is an agritech startup in Nigeria that leverages cutting-edge technology to produce quality poultry products and spices. They specialise in the production of organic broiler chicken and spices like ginger, chilli pepper, and onion. Their state-of-the-art poultry processing plant is located in 3 States of Nigeria, producing about 4 million tons of chicken annually. Agricorp was founded in 2018 in Lagos, by Kenneth Obiajulu and  Wale Omotimirin to help farmers overcome common challenges like access to finance and market. They have been able to empower about 100 farmers in the ginger value chain, especially women in the cleaning and sorting section. They also have a state-of-the-art spice processing facility that processes about 5000 tons of ginger annually. 

In 2020, during the pandemic, while other companies were experiencing a negative impact, Agricorp enjoyed a massive increase in sales of about 330% from the international market. They secured a $17.5 million Series A financing round, led by Vami Nigeria, with participation from One Capital and AFEX. They also sealed a partnership with Sajjan Foods, a Dubia-based food processor to supply 120MT Grade A Dried Split Ginger and Spicegro (Pty) Limited South Africa.

7. Releaf

Source: Releaf

Releaf focuses on developing  proprietary hardware and software solutions to make African farmers and food factories more efficient and profitable. The Nigerian based agritech startup was founded in 2018 by Ikenna Nzewi and Uzoma Ayogu, Releaf helps smallholder farmers, food processors and consumers to scale their agricultural enterprises. The agritech startup goal is to industrialise food processing in Africa by solving the problem of lack of machinery with a technology called Kraken, a deshelling machine that helps to crack oil palm nuts 90% faster than traditional methods. For now, they are focused on the oil palm value chain.

In January 2023, the agritech startup raised an oversubscribed pre-seed funding of  $3.3 million to support the launch of two new technologies, Kraken II and SITE (a geospatial mapping app that informs of the most profitable positioning of food processing).

8. Farmcrowdy

Source: Guardian.ng

Farmcrowdy is an agritech startup solving the inefficiencies in the food value chain. Their business model connects smallholder farmers and aggregators to input and farm produce respectively. It was founded in 2016 by Onyeka Akumah, Ifeanyi Anazodo, Akindele Philips, Christopher Abiodun, and Temitope Omotolani – friends passionate about improving agriculture in Africa.

In 2017, the startup received  $1 million in pre-seed funding from Techstars Atlanta. They’ve gone on to start new projects including Farmcrowdy Foods where they sell agricultural produce in bulk online 

9. Hervest

Source: Techcabal

Hervest is a fintech startup providing financial support to women with a focus on improving the lives of rural smallholder female farmers in Africa.

They provide credit facilities for smallholder female farmers to enable them to purchase inputs and be more financially inclusive in society. It was founded by Solape Akinpelu and Yomi Ogunleye in 2020. The company has grown, launching a fintech app where women can carry out target savings and better manage their finances to be able to apply for soft loans.

Hervest has so far raised over $200,000 in funding from various investors, including VC4A and  Google‘s Black Founders Fund. In October 2023, Hervest made history by being the first African startup to be featured on Google’s Campaign #WeArePlay – to tell the stories of startups and the problems that the platform is solving. 

10. Vendease

Source: Vandease

Vendease was founded in 2019 by four friends; Tunde Kara, Wale Oyepeju, Olumide Fayakin and Gatumi Aliyu, who want to automate the food procurement business in Nigeria.

The agritech startup’s goal is to reduce food wastage by linking farmers to buyers including restaurants, hotels and eateries to purchase fresh produce. Through their website, you can place an order for fresh farm produce. So far they have garnered over $33 million in funding, employing over 250 people in the workforce and working with over 3000 businesses. Vendease has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, and the United States.

11. Agritech Digest

Source: Agritechdigest

Agritech Digest is an agritech startup enhancing the agricultural media space. In a bid to ensure massive coverage of everything happening in the agricultural sector, Agritech Digest was born.

Founded by Kenneth Obayuwana – the Global Farmer – in 2023, Agritech Digest dishes out articles and stories buttressing the issues and wins of the agri sector. From technology and innovation in agriculture, agritech opportunities, including finance and investment opportunities, and agritech news in climate change and food production, the media platform attracts  global audiences.

Leveraging online media technology, the goal of Agritech Digest is to inform, connect, and inspire stakeholders in the agri sector value chain to be up to date about the latest trends in the agri sector and take action to enhance food production.

In all, Agritech startups are more than the new oil, they are a needed force, especially in Africa to drive our economy and bring immeasurable development to the continent. From Soilless Farm Labs to Hello Tractor to Agritech Digest, it is quite obvious how pertinent these startups are and the social and economic growth and development they offer our country. With agritech startups, the agricultural sector can contribute highly to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to perform lavishly than the present, where the sector contributes less than 25% to the country’s GDP currently.

cover page image: Google

Read more: How Vertical Farming and Hydroponics can Save Space and Water while Producing Fresh and Nutritious Food

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