Food security is one of the pressing issues globally. The world has taken a shift towards finding solutions that can guarantee food security for future generations while also taking care of a fragile environment and ecosystems. Food production will always be a vital component of our lives. It is important for the general economic development of countries and the continent at large. Given that food production is a major pillar of the African economy and that a number of countries on the continent recognise the agricultural industry as one of their major economic drivers, we saw it fit to kick off this series by looking at some of the startups doing amazing things in the food production/agricultural industry.
Puno Greenery (South Africa)
Puno Greenery is an agricultural startup that is based and operates in South Africa. They offer a unique service for farmers across the country that might be in need of funding for their agricultural projects. Through Puno, farmers are able to sell shares of their farming enterprises or parts of their upcoming harvests for investment that will be used to further improve the performance of their produce. Currently, there are 20 small holder farmers that are under Puno’s umbrella. Puno Greenery allows farmers to be able to access the investment they need to keep producing food and this is a key factor in the bid to obtain food security. An ecosystem that provides farmers with the financial support they need while giving investors profits on their portfolio is definitely one of the building blocks of the future of African food security.
Investors are able to choose the particular farms which they want to invest in through Puno’s website. Once one is registered, they are provided with a catalogue of farms that they can consider as part of their investment. This catalogue includes details of the farming enterprise, pictures from the current operations that are happening at the farm, and a forecast of the financial future of the business. It also details the needs of the farmer so that investors know exactly what they are investing in. Puno aims to encourage a farming culture among African youths and enable the current community of subsistence farmers to move into commercialization.
Fresh In A Box (Zimbabwe)
Fresh In A Box (FIAB) is a Zimbabwean based agricultural startup that was founded in October 2018 and has been growing from strength to strength since. This organisation was built around a model that is focused on ensuring their customer base are provided with the freshest produce possible. FIAB has a website where one can go and order different kinds of farm produce and it is delivered straight from the farm to the customer’s doorstep. They operate on an order only basis and this means that there is little to no wastage of fresh produce in their operation. When produce is damaged post harvest and cannot be sold to customers but can still be consumed, it is either consumed in the homes of the FIAB team or donated to soup kitchens around Harare. The fruits and veggies that are damaged beyond the state of consumption, it is added to the compost at the farm for refeeding the ground.
Reducing the amount of food that we waste is one of the key factors that will help Africa become more food secure. Another important step is to capacitate as many farmers, smallholder and commercial, as possible. When there are more farmers sustainably and efficiently producing food for their communities, there is a good chance that fewer people go hungry over time. FIAB produces 35% of the fresh produce that they supply to their client base while they source the remaining 65% from other farmers in their network. In a bif to provide further support for smallholder farmers, they are working on a platform that will open up channels of funding for these farmers. The blockchain based system will allow investors to invest in different kinds of farming enterprises, giving smallholder farmers an opportunity to expand their businesses.
Farmcrowdy is a Nigerian based online marketplace that was designed to set up more efficient distribution channels for farmers. It is a startup that has cited the promotion of food security across the globe as one of its core missions. In 2019, Farmcrowdy raised $1 million in startup funding, a figure that reflects the potential that it has in fulfilling its goals. Through the platform, farmers can obtain direct access to the markets that need their produce. Farmcrowdy also provides farmers with technology that improves harvesting and storage, with the idea that reducing food wastage improves food security.
Providing farmers with a marketplace that increases their profits and creates more value for their produce will play a significant role in improving food security for the continent. The current value chain has flaws and inefficiencies that lose money for farmers, and it is these inefficiencies that Farmcrowdy aims to solve. There are various technologies that are being utilised by the startup in order to maximise the yields produced by farmers, and by extension, their profits. Attention has been given to every stage of the food production cycle with tools that give an analysis of the market, pricing tools that help farmers get the best value on the market, technology that improves yields and systems that keep track of weather and climate changes. All these work hand in hand to ensure that food insecurity becomes a thing of the past.
These startups are well on their way to becoming leaders in the agriculture and food production sector. In a world where food security has become a matter of urgent priority, startups like these will play a key role in ensuring food security for Africa. As AfriBlocks, we wish them the very best in their bid to continue to grow and become the giants that we see them becoming in the future.
Follow this series for information on more African startups that are on the rise. Make sure you follow AfriBlocks on all our social media platforms where we continue to work towards building the future of the African workspace.