Our objective at Farmz2U is to increase food security and sustainability through innovation in agriculture. With a focus in Sub Saharan Africa, we seek to use technology to empower smallholder farmers,the bedrock of agriculture. Afterall, they make up 80% of all farmers in the region and contribute to local food production.
For as long as I can remember, the African farmer has been depicted as uneducated and poor, with a hoe or cutlass being used to manage his or her farm. But guess what, there is a new age of modern farmers in Africa. With the continent’s resources like vast arable land and a growing youth population, there is a great potential for the agricultural sector.
“Farmz2U helps farmers farm better with tailored agricultural expertise and access to market”
Technology has a way of accelerating growth and this is what we seek to achieve at Farmz2U with our digital platform. This week, I had a Zoom call with farmers in Lagos, Nigeria demonstrating our product and its impact in addressing their challenges. So, at Farmz2U, yes we know firsthand that the depiction of the African farmer being uneducated and poor is becoming less true.
Food industries across the world have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this increases the risk of food insecurity. While in advanced economies like the United States, production has been suspended in the dairy industry due to an inability to distribute produce via existing channels. Emerging economies like Nigeria struggle with challenges of transporting produce from the farm to the end-consumer. These challenges create a need to do things differently to ensure food production is protected. Africa has a greater food insecurity risk as a net-food importing continent.
What are the challenges for Nigeria’s food industry and where are the opportunities for growth? Increased post-harvest waste is a challenge as farmers are unable to sell produce via traditional distribution channels. For instance, many farmers across the country depended on the Mile 12 market in Lagos to sell harvested produce, however with inter-state travel restrictions this is not a viable channel. Similarly, logistics a challenge pre COVID-19, is more difficult with less reliability and increased price volatility. The industry is not regulated thus increasing the risk of uncoordinated activities. Other challenges in the industry include price volatility of inputs and harvested produce, higher inventory cycles with food manufacturers such as Honeywell due to supply disruption and lower food supply to serve local demand due to closed international borders.
Farmz2U is focusing on improving farmer’s activities to ensure food security. Our COVID response strategy has two objectives, which is funded by an international grant. Our goal is to facilitate a minimum of 500 trades between farmers and the market by connecting farmers to new distribution channels. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased need for direct communication between farmers and food producers to better manage changing production schedules. Furthermore, there has been an increase in online distribution channels like Farmcrowdy Foods. Our aim is to support these changes using a USSD service to capture farmers’ available produce and enable trade through buyer matching. In addition, we would support a minimum of 5000 farmers with our farming management platform with features like input pricing & procurement and disease management through digital agronomy services. Both objectives are in line with our business mission of “helping farmers farm better with tailored agricultural expertise using data and access to market”. We are currently offering free access on our platform until August 2020.
Jesse Osiobe – the founder of a leading agric-tech platform Farmkart. Through his dad’s employment at Mitchell Farms, Jesse learnt firsthand the need for increased local agricultural production in Nigeria. In 2016, he pursued Farmkart full-time and has experienced significant growth.
Ify Umunna – the co-lead of Nourishing Africa, a virtual home of agri-food entrepreneurs transforming Africa’s agricultural landscape. Nourishing Africa is an initiative of Sahel Consulting, a leading consultancy transforming agriculture through advisory services and market access.
Noah Kadima – founder of Africa Farmers Club which was created to support farmers with credible, reliable and applicable farming methods to improve efficiency and increase income. He is also the beneficiary of the 2018 Facebook $1 million CLP award. Noah is a great advocate of youth farming and mentor of many aspiring farmers.
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In December 2019, BBC Yoruba interviewed our founder, Aisha, alongside some farmers in the Amuludun community in Ikorodu Lagos. While we are still pre-launch, we have been working with different communities to understand the challenges they face and how our solution can solve them. It is great to see value already being created! Watch the short interview here.
Next stop we were off to London for the RAEng residency week for the Africa Prize Award 2020 and the UK-Africa Investment Summit. It is great to see growing ties between the UK and Africa on the #InvestinAfrica agenda. This creates more opportunities for SME enterprises on the African continent.
It is so cool that we were in Nigeria (Lagos & Akwa Ibom) and England (London & Cambridge) in one month! We started off on the EIT Food Hackahton at the Impact Hub in Kings Cross, London. It was a weekend of brainstorming innovative methods of addressing challenges in the food industry using technology. Next stop was a two-week residency at the Cambridge Consultants (CC) headquarters in Cambridge. After months of working with the team remotely to optimize our software development, we worked at CC’s base to further engage with its experts.
With our nomination as the Best Digital Solution (Green Category) by World Summit Awards, we presented at the Mobile and Disruptive Technology 2019 Summit in Lagos.
We were also at the NOAH London 2019 Summit to interact with investors and startups in the European community. Watch Aisha’s pitch here.
We are a an agtech enterprise that develops technology solutions for agriculture. With a team of agronomists, engineers and data scientists, we seek innovative ways of using technology to empower the next generation of farmers in Sub Saharan Africa.
Why are we doing this?
Farmers in Nigeria challenges like poor yield, poor access to market and knowledge gap among others. While our operations are currently in Nigeria, we seek to expand across Sub Saharan Africa given similar farm structures like size and soil type, across the region. To ensure food sustainability, we are helping farmers increase produce yield and reduce pest & disease infestations. Our goal is to increase profits and productivity on the farm.
How are we doing this?
Our farming management platform has features that help farmers decide what to grow. This is based of farm resources and data analytics, for instance; historic crop yields can determine maize as a good candidate! Also with access to market we support secondary services like guaranteed sales which is very important to the farmer! Farmz2U plays a market maker role in ensuring profitable and equitable benefits across the entire value chain.