EZ Farming, a Nigerian agritech marketplace that helps farmers finance and sell their produce has received a $150,000 seed funding from 500 Startups. This comes after a four-month accelerator programme.
EZ Farming was the only Nigerian Startup that benefited from the 25th batch of 500 Startups’ accelerator programme. The accelerator programme offers funding, mentorship and hands-on training for 6% equity in the startup.
Over the past five years, agriculture has contributed an average of 23.5% to GDP and generated 5.1% of export earnings according to report by PwC. This makes agriculture Nigeria’s single largest economic sector.
Origin of agritech start-ups, Farmcrowdy and EZ Farming
Nigeria’s best known digital agriculture platform Farmcrowdy was founded in 2016. The launch of Farmcrowdy brought new development, as agritech showed great promise in rebranding the Nigerian agricultural sector.
This deployment of technology in agricultural processes created a new field that strengthened the value chain. The agritech start-up empowered rural farmers by providing them with sponsors and a market for the sale of their farm produce.
EZ Farming similar to Farmcrowdy was launched in 2018 by Nigerian agricultural economist, Dr Adewale Oparinde.
The platform’s goal is to create a market space that uses modern technology platforms to connect global investors with local commercial farmers. It also wants to improve the agricultural value chain in the country by empowering the next generation of farmers.
Since launching, EZ Farming has collaborated with more than 600 microlenders to invest over $600K in more than 120 verified and trusted farmers who are scaling fast to become commercial farmers.
Forerunner, Farmcrowdy has empowered over 11,000 small scale-farmers across Nigeria.
Both agritech start-ups have solid financial backing.
EZ Farming is already attracting investors if its recent $150,000 seed funding from 500 Startups is anything to go by. Farmcrowdy has raised $1 million in seed funding from global investors, Cox Enterprises and Techstars, as well as a local investor, Ajayi Solutions.
The influx of fund means both agrictech start-ups will be increasing their reach and preparing for the next phase of growth.
What Farmcrowdy and EZ Farming Offer farmers
EZ Farming like similar agriculture platform, Farmcrowdy, empowers farmers by providing finance and available buyers for their products. However, Farmcrowdy prides itself on following the farmer through the entire process, providing farmers with improved seeds, farm inputs and training on modern farming techniques.
On its part, making money and buyers available isn’t all that EZ Farming does. They provide a modern way for people to invest in agriculture. They provide risk analysis sourced from available data, industry knowledge and network feedback to give investors sufficient knowledge on what they are investing in.
The agritech start-up also wants to focus on making jobs available to unemployed youths, enhancing Africa’s capacity to scale in agriculture, enhancing food and nutrition security and promoting agricultural productivity.
Africa’s agriculture value chain
Africa holds almost 50% of the world’s uncultivated land which is suited for growing food crops. According to Growing Africa, Africa’s food systems are currently valued at US$313 billion a year from agriculture. This number could triple if access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value foods are provided.
Africa’s food market is projected to hit $1 Trillion by 2030, if access to capital, technology and expertise is made available to smallholder farmers to scale their farms fast into commercial sizes. Agritech start-ups like EZ Farm and Farmcrowdy, targeting the food deficit in Nigeria and Africa in general, are bridging the gap.
Farmcrowdy and EZ Farming have both been honoured for the visible improvements they have made in Nigeria’s agricultural chain. EZ Farming earlier in the year came first at a competition hosted by Georgetown African Business Conference. And Onyeka Akumah, founder of Farmcrowdy, likewise received an invite from Chattam House to give a lecture on digitising the agriculture value chain in Africa.
The platform the agritech start-ups have provided make it possible for farmers to plant without the worry of finding buyers. With this system, post-harvest losses that run up 15 to 20% for cereals, higher for perishable products due to poor storage and other farm infrastructure, can be avoided.
The growing profile of agritech startups like Farmcrody and EZ Farming may be the needed push entrepreneurs need to invest en masse in the underdeveloped agricultural sector in the country.
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