Nigeria hasn’t been on the global agritech scene for long. Until a few years ago, you could probably count the number of tech startups in the country’s agriculture sector on the fingers of one hand. Ecommerce and fintech took the headlines and got a fat portion of investment money. Agritech was only a small part of a rising startup ecosystem, represented by an almost negligible number of ventures.
But things are changing.
Nigeria now leads the way in Africa with respect to the size of its agritech market. It shares top spot on the continent with Kenya, where Africa’s agritech experiment began. That’s according to a report launched by Disrupt Africa in May. The report indicates that Nigeria has clawed back enough of Kenya’s early lead in the space to put it on the cusp of gaining that leadership from the East African country.
Triple digit growth
The evidence presented in Disrupt Africa‘s report suggests that much of this growth has taken place over the last two years. Of the 82 agritech ventures existing in Africa today, 43 began operating in the period between 2016 and present- a growth of 110%. A lot of this expansion has occured in West Africa, where there’s an increasing interest in tech-driven solutions to agricultural value chain problems. Nigeria and Ghana are at the forefront of this change. They, along with Kenya, account for over 60% of agritech startups active in Africa.
The almost sudden explosion of agritech in the past couple of years is probably the result of a growing realization that the sector could certainly use help from digital technology. Practically every point on the agricultural value chain could be made to work more efficiently when they have access to useful expert advice, scientific data, and market information. In Nigeria, startups like FarmCrowdy and Verdant have gotten quite a bit of media exposure for providing these solutions. Their success has inspired young urban dwelling tech savvy entrepreneurs to get involved in the largely rural business of agriculture.
Creating a future worth investing in
The publishers of the Disrupt Africa report say that the sharp rise in agritech activity in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent is, for the most part, a positive sign. Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder of Disrupt Africa, opines that home grown tech solutions could give African agriculture a significant boost.
“The scope for innovation in the agricultural sphere is vast. That’s why this report is so exciting. It shines a light on the extent to which the continent’s entrepreneurs are already disrupting the agriculture industry.”
Not surprisingly, investors are putting their money into Africa’s agritech startups They’ve channeled over $19 million into such ventures in the past two years. Nigerian startups have raised some of this money. FarmCrowdy, a platform that lets its users invest in farms for returns, secured funding worth $1 million late last year, and another $325,000 earlier this year. In August 2017, Releaf, another agritech startup, had scooped up a $120,000 investment from YCombinator, an internationally renowned early startup investor.
All the signs are pointing in the direction of more growth for this burgeoning ecosystem. Tomorrow’s societies will demand even more efficient agricultural production systems. Companies that help to bring agriculture into the age of convenience and maximal efficiency will be big winners in such a world.