BY TOM JACKSON
Crowd-investing of farmers in Africa was pioneered by Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, but the model has since been used and adapted by a host more startups – Thrive Agric (which has run into some difficulties of late), Seekewa, Complete Farmer, BaySeddo, YouFarm and Livestock Wealth, to name just a few.
The latest company trying to make a splash in the space is Nigeria’s Agrorite, which works with 8,200 smallholder farmers span across 12 states in Nigeria, connecting them with investors and helping them sell their produce.
Like other such platforms, Agrorite allows users to invest in farm units and earn returns once produce goes to market, connecting farmers with vital capital. Founder Toyosi Ayodele told Disrupt Africa he launched the startup in order to find a solution to the needs of the average smallholder farmer in Africa, stating with one Mr Ule, a rice farmer in Benue state.
“Ule, as most smallholder farmers, sold his harvested produce at ridiculously low prices due to the involvement of middlemen, and also experienced about 30-40 per cent post-harvest losses due to lack of access to the premium market. Another major challenge Ule faced was lack of finance to scale food production due to the fact that he was not creditworthy,” Ayodele said.
“Ule is a hard worker and most times puts in 18 hours of work per day, six days a week, so as to get the required quantity and quality at harvest. It is disheartening to know that he has little or nothing to show for his effort.”
Agrorite, launched in May 2019, addresses both of Ule’s major challenges, sourcing finance for him and selling his produce to premium processing companies. The self-funded company is already working with thousands of farmers, but its impact goes further.
“So far we have been able to carry out export activities in three continents, cultivate 5,830 hectares of farmland, and produce over 86,340 metrics tonnes of farm produce,” said Ayodele.
“We are currently in the process of setting up a food processing plant. Increased exportation capacity is also a major outlook for us. However, we are seeking partnership and grants to boost agricultural production.”