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Agritech startup enabling market linkages for farmers

For decades Kenyan farmers have struggled with agricultural output as mechanization and market access become some of the key challenges to the performance of the sector to its optimum.

There is equally the dog’s age conversation of brokers taking advantage of farmers when they sell produce on behalf of them.

Kenyan Startup Afriagrimark saw the plight of farmers in the country and put together systems and solutions to address the gaps in production and supply for the farmer. Using technology, the Agritech startup directly connect farmers with retailers, leveraging on the convenience of speed to offer affordable, and more dependable sourcing and delivery services to meet the market correction needs.

“Our long-term ambition is to build a more long-term and sustainable supply chain. This is the best way to actually give farmers entry into new markets that actually offer competitive prices for their produce,” Bonface Nyalwal Co-Founder and CEO told NTV.

Afriagrimark works by building a community of farmers which allows them to build economies of scale during harvest.

“For example hundreds of farmers in a specific value chain, say like in irish potatoes, when put together are now able to aggregate the prices well than say when they sell independently because of the negotiation power,” he added.

Started in 2020, Bonface says the team spent almost a year doing market research to establish just how deep the challenge was before actively and formerly launching operations in 2022.

They are among the handful of the Agritech startups that emerged top of the startups that pitched at the Sankalp Africa Summit of 2023, Nairobi.

“To be honest, the agritech financing space is scary and we are truly grateful to have won or made it to the top 3. With a demand of say $140 billion needed to finance Africa’s food and agricultural needs, we barely manage to get half of that. This is despite the food security situation that most African countries are grappling with at the moment,” Bonface explained.

Inadequate structures in the agricultural sector present lots of risk for investors and startup venture capitalists to consider agritech investments, a challenge Afriagrimark has faced when sourcing for resources to scale up.

However, the concerns are fast gaining attention as investors are coming up with new ways of derisking and attend to the need for investing in agriculture.

Automation of data, science and research and inventory taking are fast becoming key aspects of record keeping in the sector as they make a secondary market research for all players to make decisions.

“Regarding agri-startups, some areas include financial inclusion, technology, infrastructure, farm data, analytics, and supply chain. The general principle here is solutions within these areas that promote access to, and affordability of good food to the vulnerable, unserved and underserved populations across Kenya and the continent,” William Mulehi, Principal at Intellecap Advisory Services, one of the conveners of the 10th Sankalp Africa Summit revealed.

William recommends that, the Government should involve agri-startups like Afriagrimark in policy development to best create a conducive environment for these businesses.

“Some things to consider here include smart agriculture, infrastructure, research and development and general land use policies. Access to finance is another way that the government can support their growth, by providing patient capital.

Support with market linkages both within the country as well as to the regional and international market will give startups the enthusiasm needed to push on to growth,” he added.

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