Do you have an interest in farming? If you live in, or have an interest in Africa, then you should have an interest in farming, and agriculture in general. The potential of the agricultural market is massive. With huge portions of land available, and growing population, there is an urgent need to utilise resources, increase yields and empower young African farmers to feed an entire continent, without the reliance on food imports. Regardless of the need for agriculture, urbanisation is driving people out rural areas to search for jobs in the cities, abandoning their agricultural roots.
For those looking for investment opportunities, agriculture should be, at the very least, close to the top of the options. Food is needed, and food must be supplied. There is a shortfall of it, and therefore, there is room for more farmers, bigger farms, and/or better farming practices. With #CowFunding, and FarmCrowdy there are ways for people in urban areas to keep to their farming roots. There are also many other innovations popping up around the industry.
Sometimes, I have to trawl the internet searching for innovations regarding a certain sector in Africa, but in this case, Mest Africa helped me with three great innovations the wrote about on Twitter. All of which compliment the agricultural sector.
Farmers rely on many agricultural inputs to make sure their crops are of the best quality possible. From the seeds, to the fertiliser, or the pesticide, so many things are important to a farmer and his farm. So how does he make sure that all these inputs are of the right quality. As with many things, such as medicines, food types, drinks, there is a chance of either getting a sub standard product, or even counterfeit, which could have an adverse effect on the crop. It is not only farmers that a falling prey to substandard or counterfeit products. Consumers are also finding challenges when purchasing genuine, quality food stuffs. With food safety requirements important to the wellbeing of a nations population, ensuring quality is vital.
QualiTrace has a solution, which enables farmers and consumers to verify the quality of a product before purchase. Their track and trace technology is able to authenticate products, and enable the consumer to check the supply chain history, and importantly independently verifying the source of the product. By texting a special code, which will be on each product, it is possible to receive information via phone about the product. It is a simple service, which will change the way people think about supply change and food safety.
Encouraging people to farm is incredibly important, but it isn’t always easy to get started. As a young man, I decided to invest the little savings I had in a farm in Ghana. I had been told that Jatropha, which was supposed to be the next big bio fuel product, was the next big farming revolution, and I decided to give it a go. I had the land ploughed, and Jatropha planted, and then, there were no rains, and the crop failed! (It wasn’t all bad though, to this day, the farm ticks over, giving locals seasonal work, and growing vegetables. I haven’t given up of my dream of a farm, but I did not have the correct knowledge in order to start one successfully. I needed help.
That is where CompleteFarmer come in. They have realised that many, no matter where they live in the continent, would like to be involved in farming. There 6 point plan takes you through the steps from taking the decision to farm, learning the best practices, all the way to selling your produce for the best price possible. They help you plan your farm, find well priced and quality inputs, (Maybe they could partner with QualiTrace for this), help with the entire setting up of the plan, and make sure that the farmer has all the attributes to meet the yield projections.
Companies like Syngenta are already in Africa, trying to help local famers, and of course, create a market for themselves. It is great to see a Ghanaian startup focussing on creating efficiencies around the agricultural sector, and enabling many to be brave, and take their first step into farming. They use the latest technologies to make sure that each unique farm gets a tailor made service to suit their needs, and baring in mind their location, and crop. CompleteFarmer are providing a service that I would have needed all those years ago, and I am extremely happy to see them supporting Ghana, and hopefully in the future, Africa’s agricultural sector.
Agriculture is not all about growing crops. Livestock are also a very important element for a populations nutrition. Many across the continent rely on beef, chicken, goat and fish to supplement their nutrition. Livestock are important for for both the consumer and those farming them. Cattle herders can often be seen leading (or following) their cattle around both rural areas, making sure they are safe and don’t get lost. But, despite this, many of them lose up to 30% of cattle each year to undetected diseases and a further 5% to theft, which is a huge investment just slipping down the pan.
Anitrack offer a livestock management service, which saves farmers time, money and piece of mind. Their advanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology stops the need for time consuming head counting, and creates an alert any time an animal leaves the area. It works up to 500 metres, and there are plans in the future to add exact location tracking, so farmers can easily find or locate animals. The head count method also makes it difficult for farmers to track the health of their animals, as well as identify them.
Across the continent innovators are seeing the potential of agricultural tech. The success of innovations like WeFarm and FarmCrowdy has spurred on an interest in agriculture, which is necessary for the progression of the industry. In the coming year, we will surely continue to see more and more agricultural innovations.
If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.