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Nigerians are known as enterprising people globally. Both at home and abroad, they have been able to make the best of every situation and succeed in different areas: academia, business, arts, and in many other endeavours. In agriculture, the younger generation, especially millennials, are taking the nation by storm. Here is a list of the top 10 agricultural start-ups in Nigeria.
Kerekusk Rice is the venture that took Lagos-born-and-bred Rotimi Williams to Nasarawa state. In spite of initial challenges, he persisited and was able to make his venture profiatble. He partners with his host community, which provided him with 45,000 hectares of land, making Kerekusk Rice the second-largest rice farm in Nigeria. In an interview, Rotimi advocates that there needs to be more government intervention to assist small-scale rice farmers, to make their ventures profitable for them, too.
Farmcrowdy, founded by Onyeka Akumah, is Nigeria’s first digital agriculture platform that focuses on connecting farm sponsors with real farmers in order to increase food production. Farmcrowdy has been able to empower farmers across Nigeria by getting them access to funding, quality seeds and capacity building for improved yield. The platform has also encouraged young people to get involved in farming, as well as bringing on board people who may be interested in farming but do not have the time or skills.
Thrive Agric Nigeria is a start-up that helps smallholder farmers obtain the best inputs and machinery for their farms, as well as data-driven advisory services and access to premium markets. Uka Eje, the founder of Thrive Agric, took up the challenge after leaving school, when he discovered the major challenges faced by farmers in rural areas. There were three major challenges: insufficient access to finance, mechanization and advisory services, as well as markets. The start-up built a platform that connected these farmers to investors, and today Thrive Agric is a success story, improving the lives of thousands of local farmers.
Nasir Yammama from Katsina State, founded Verdant Agritech to support farmers by providing a mobile platform by which farmers can obtain information on markets, financial services and support, as well as extension sevices that teach innovative farming practices. The Verdant app connects all the stakeholders in the agricultural value chain and it is aimed at maximing the benefits of agriculture for everyone, especially the farmers, who still live in poverty in many parts of Nigeria and Africa. Yammama was one of five Nigerians on Forbes Africa’s list of 30 under 30.
Psaltry International was founded by Yemisi Iranloye in 2005 to market cassava. The agribusiness, however, expanded its operations into farm development and production of food-grade starch from cassava. Psaltry currently supplies food-grade starch to companies all over Nigeria. The company also has an outgrower scheme that benefits about 2,000 farmers, labourers, processors, and other players in the cassava-to-starch supply chain.
The brainchild of Angel Adelaja, Fresh Direct is an organic farming start-up that uses new solutions such as vertical farming and hydroponics (growing plants without soil and with little water). The urban farming method pioneered by Adelaja is aimed at making farming accessible to everyone to produce food, even in cities. She created a stackable container farm using shipping containers, where one conatiner can produce vegetables grown on one-and-a-half acres of land. Fresh Direct also creates low-tech affordable technolgies from indeginous materials to make farming simpler. Adelaja won first prize at The Venture Search organized by Chivas Regal in Nigeria in 2015.
Simply Green Juices is Nigeria’s first farm-to-bottle, organic, cold-pressed juice company. The company grows all the fruits and vegetables used in the production of its various juices, at a farm in Oyo state. The CEO of Simply Green, Sola Ladoja, stated that his desire is to reduce the importation of fruits and vegetables into Nigeria, since most of them can be grown locally. The agricultural entrepreneur started the business when he saw that there were no good-quality green juices in Nigeria, compared to New York where he was living previously. He stated further that he started the business with N250,000 (US$700) in 2014 and the business has now grown into millions of naira.
Farmfields Agro-Allied Services, founded by Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa, provides support for local farmers and agricultural investors in both crop and animal production. The start-up supports farmers who plan to scale up from peasant farming to commercial farming by providing extension services, quality seeds, access to finance, access to mechanization, and general advisory services on new and innovative methods in farming. Maikasuwa also helped to launch a Network Agropreneur project for women farmers.
Honeysuckles PTL Ventures was founded by Mosunmola Umoru with the aim of selling processed agricultural produce to food retail chains and restaurants. However, inadequate supply and low quality of such food items prompted her to start her own farm and food supply chain. Today, Honeysuckles produces high quality food products that are well packaged from its own farms and ponds. Umoru now focuses on training and mentoring young Nigerians who want to venture into agricultural food production like she did.
Releaf was founded by Isaiah Udotong, Ikenna Nzewi, and Uzoma Ayogu. It focuses on using technology to accelerate agricultural-based industrialisation in Nigeria. Its present major project is the production of palm kernel oil (PKO) which is still currently inadequately supplied to companies that use it as raw material. Releaf has a ‘smart’ factory located in Ikot Ukana Village, Obot Akara LGA in Akwa Ibom State, which has a 25-tons-per-day crushing capacity and aims to source and buy 60 tons of palm kenels from farmers weekly. The factory uses different algorithms in its operations, which ensures an efficient digital-industrial factory. In 2017, Releaf was selected for the Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator, and received US$120,000 in funding.