From crisis to opportunity: digital start-ups for African agriculture
Farmers face substantial losses as a result of the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But support is at hand from young companies with fresh ideas.
The coronavirus pandemic poses considerable problems for agriculture in Africa: major markets are closed, and it is virtually impossible to travel to commercial centres. As a result, farmers are losing income and it is becoming more difficult to supply the population with food. A number of African start-ups are finding digital solutions to these challenges.
The Ugandan platform Bringo Fresh enables farmers to sell their produce despite the restrictions. Customers use the app to place orders for fruit, vegetables and dairy products rather than having to go to the market. The fresh goods are packed and delivered directly to the customer via moped. Bringo Fresh has more than doubled its sales during the crisis compared with 2019. The Zambian company eMsika, meanwhile, has created a virtual market place for agricultural resources and equipment. Farmers can order seed, fertiliser and the latest technology, such as solar-powered water pumps, and have it delivered to remote regions. eMsika is currently supplying agricultural resources and equipment to around 2,100 Zambian farmers.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting these and other start-ups in further developing their business models. The start-ups receive regular advice and assistance and also benefit from training courses in business and finance. The objective is to promote new and creative ideas and to make companies more attractive to business partners. Since 2019, selected start-ups have been receiving this support on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Both Bringo Fresh and eMsika are now planning their next steps: Bringo Fresh is working on plans to expand to Kenya, while eMsika is developing an online academy to train farmers in improved farming methods that will further boost their incomes.