- Over 500,000 Nigerian smallholder farmers are no longer bearing the risk that made many of them poor despite feeding the nation every year
- Agric Tech Startups in Nigeria have been able to eliminate the fear of investing in the agricultural sector through the use of technology
- Smallholder farmers no longer have to depend solely on Federal and State government intervention funds to run their farmlands
Six years ago, to be a substantial investor in the agric business in Nigeria, you need to physically own a farmland and bear its risk - but all that changed in recent years due to advancement in technology.
Prior to the introduction of tech in farming, the business was associated with high risk, with the volatility creating a visible gap between farmers and financing.
The risk made agriculture less appealing for private investment despite being a major contributor to Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), hence, the over-reliance of farmers on Federal and State governments' funds.
This gave birth to Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), Anchor Borrowers, and Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), and also pushed the farmers into debt.
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So this government intervention funds were not enough as about 80% of farmers in Nigeria are smallholder farmers and are the main producer of 98% of the food consumed in Nigeria.
Entry of Nigerian innovators into the agric business
Faced with insecurity, storage capacity and transportation problem, smallholder farmers were feeding the nation, but struggling to put food on their own table as they languish in poverty induced by debt incurred through challenges beyond their control.
This was the life story of many smallholder farmers until some group of Nigerian innovators decided to use technology to bridge the gap and tackle the problems in the last six years.
Innovators such as Onyeka Akumah, Akindele Phillips, Niyi Oguntade, Bill Kenneths, Akpa Chike, Felix Imafidon, Ayodeji Arikawe and Uka Eje, are some of the Nigerians leading these disruption.
They disrupted the farming business through hardware and software solutions that connects smallholder farmers to finance and job security without liabilities, risk or debt, which was associated with government funds.
The investment platform created by Akumah, Oguntade, Kenneths, Imafidon, Arikawe and other agric tech operators enable individuals to invest in maize farming, rice milling, cassava, poultry farming, cattle, potatoes, and fishery without having to own a farm land, and yet earn ROI, with the elimination of wage burden and investment risk.
Together, these Agric Tech founders have empowered over 567,000 smallholder farmers across Southern and Northern Nigeria in six years of their operation, and attracted over 330,000 investors to participate in investment cycle through their platforms.
Legit.ng gathered that these investments are insured through the partnership these innovators have with the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation and insurance firm, Leadway Assurance, hence, the reduction in risk to farmers and investors.
Startups changing the way farming business runs
In 2016, Farmcrowdy was established by five Nigerians; Onyeka Akumah, Akindele Phillips, Tope Omotolani, Christopher Abiodun, and Ifeanyi Anazodo.
Led by Akumah, Farmcrowdy is the first digital agricultural platform created to enable Nigerians to invest as low as N20,000 to a farm project without being exposed to farm management liabilities and risk.
This platform has cater to 424,966 smallholder farmers within the last five years, and attracted 319,775 Agriculture enthusiasts & followers who have invested in their farm business.
Niyi Oguntade, founder of Timesellers Limited, founded Groupfarma in 2018 to create a mass participation in agricultural activities as well as securing it.
His effort has led to the empowerment of over 42,000 smallholder farmers, who have received debt free capital from 7520 plus investors through Groupfarma's agric tech platform, which allows for as low as N50,000 investment.
Oguntade and his team have been able to reduce poverty, create returns on investment, jobs and massive food production in Nigeria through their farmlands located in Ogun, Oyo, and Kaduna States.
Co-founded by Ayodeji Arikawe and Uka Eje, Thrive Agric allows individuals to invest as low as N10,000 in farm produce since 2016, with a return on investment between 12% and 20%.
While the startup was hit by a spanner in its works last year due to the impact of COVID-19, Thrive Agric has continued to press on its mission to bridge the gap, providing financing to 100,000 plus smallholders farmers through its platform.
While it's one of the most expensive in terms of investment level, which starts from N100,000, Farmsponsor's founder Bill Kenneths and Akpa Chike have also contributed to the change in status quo.
Farmsponsor raises funds for poultry farming with over 4000 investors already financing 300 plus smallholder farmers in partnership with the agric tech startup.
Legit.ng findings showed that between Farmcrowdy, Groupfarma, Thrive Agric and Farmsponsor, over 1.20 million acres of farmland have been cultivated within six years by over 567,000 smallholder farmers.
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Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Romain Poirot-Lellig, Etop Ikpe and Obi Emetarom saw the problems challenging Nigeria and decided to turn it into a business opportunity.
The four founders turned these challenges into a revenue opportunities, as they exchange solutions in exchange for a fee, which has made their companies billion and million dollars.