Nigeria’s agriculture space needs all the innovative solutions it can get. Demand for the products it puts out continues to increase, but the industry’s value chains remain largely underdeveloped and inefficient.
Agritech startups are helping various portions of the agric ecosystem lift their performance. They are opening up new funding sources, providing output enhancing technologies, and training farmers in the practices they need to raise yields and grow revenues.
EZ Farming is among the latest startups on this scene. It leverages digital technology to channel funding from individual investors to smallholder farmers. The farmers who benefit from the funding are able to grow crops and scale their general operations. Investors get returns from the money they put into farming projects.
This model has already been tried out by other ventures operating in the space. But Adewale Oparinde, founder and CEO of EZ Farming, says that his startup differentiates itself from the others with its emphasis on scaling smaller farms. Besides providing inputs and farm insurance for its partner farmers, it also gets their produce off-taken by high-value buyers. This helps them get fairer prices and better profit margins for their efforts.
The startup’s activity takes place on at least two fronts: its website, where investors sign up for and monitor their farm investments, and the vast swathes of Nigeria on which farmers grow the country’s food.
Anyone interested in reaping profits from the field without physically soiling their hands can do so by selecting a farm listed on EZ Farming’s website and investing in it. The projects from those farms are named along with the returns (in percentage terms) that investors can expect to get from them. However, prospective investors will have to register on the online platform in order to access the opportunities that exist on it.
EZ Farming also engages farmers on the ground. The crop growers they enlist tend to have a good degree of experience with cultivating on land. This preference coupled with defined selection criteria and monitoring process ensures that the planting, tending, and harvesting go as smoothly as investors want them to. EZ Farming takes on young farmers as well, under a youth employment initiative.
Investors can monitor their portfolio on their dashboard, which is created after they register with the platform. Updates on the progress of work on their farms are shared to them in pictures and videos.
Following the harvest, the produce reaped from the sponsored farm is sold to off-takers with whom EZ Farming has partnered. Farmers and investors receive their respective portions of the revenue from the sales.
Thus far, it has helped farm 20,000 acres, and created over 100 jobs in the agric space. It also reports a 0% default rate on funding committed to it by investors.
Although EZ Farming kicked off operations in 2018, the startup has attracted considerable attention from within and outside of the country. It has recently been received into the Silicon-Valley-based 500 Startups accelerator program, which also gives it access to $150,000 in seed funding.
The long term plan of the startup’s team is to reach the rest of the continent with its innovative services in the coming years.
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