A startup is using software and hands-on assistance to help small farmers earn top dollar for their produce
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Spotted: Smallholder farmers in many developing countries suffer from a lack of scale – they cannot compete with large conglomerates, even if they offer a high-quality product. This is due to their lack access to financing, food processors, and the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. In Nigeria, agricultural company ThriveAgric is using technology to help small farmers compete.
ThriveAgric uses its proprietary Agricultural Operating System (AOS) to assist farmers with financing, development and training, technology and post-harvest services, access to premium markets, and social and financial inclusion. Each season, the company onboards farmers and communities, inputting data about individual fields, soil texture, slope, proximity to water, and creditworthiness into the AOS. This data is used to calculate and disburse loans to each farmer, in the form of improved seeds, fertilisers, and crop protection products, rather than cash.
But that’s not all. ThriveAgric also gives tailored advice and tracks each farms’ progress using multiple data points, assisting, where needed, to maximise harvest. Farmers repay their loans in form of produce, based on agreed amounts. The rest of their harvest is profit. ThriveAgric stores all the produce in its own warehouses and sells it at volume at peak prices to markets where they have established relationships.
ThriveAgric recently raised $56.4 million (€58.2 million) in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors. Discussing the investment, Chief Executive Officer Uka Eje said, “The new investment takes us one step closer to fulfilling our mission of building the largest network of profitable African farmers using technology to ensure food security.”
The climate crisis has encouraged innovators to explore new ways of increasing crop yields without using intensive methods that can harm the environment. Springwise has recently seen many promising developments in this area, including a sustainable fertiliser that can be manufactured on-site and the use of extremophile bacteria to increase crop yields.
Written By: Lisa Magloff