Digitizing agriculture during the pandemic era


UjuziKilimo, a data-driven agricultural technology company that is driving change in the way farmers access information and manage their food productivity is wary of the effects of Covid-19 to local agricultural production. In an era where food production and supply chains are greatly disrupted by the pandemic, the company is unveiling new structures for helping small agriculture-based businesses in Kenya.

These local small-scale farmers are set to enjoy Kshs18million worth of technical support as part of a social-economic recovery initiative by the agricultural technology solutions provider.  UjuziKilimo has received support from Wadson Ventures, an Africa-focused early-stage venture capital house to facilitate this intervention.

The partnership is moulded in form of a COVID-19 relief partnership agreement. UjuziKilimo Chief Executive officer Brian Bosire says the company will channel the support not only towards COVID-19 but also locust invasion related interventions geared at facilitating swifter agricultural production recovery.

Bosire is also expressing regret that continued use of non-data driven decisions on food production by economic planning and related stakeholders has the potential to exacerbate the food crisis during the forthcoming post-COVID-19 period.

“At UjuziKilimo, we are delivering a platform that advances data-driven decisions for the world’s smallholder farmers by collecting, organizing and making sense of agricultural data. The partnership with Wadson Ventures will allow us to extend free access to digital tools to enable farmer support organizations to sustain smallholder farmer operations while fighting the pandemic and making our food production systems resilient during and post the COVID-19,” said Bosire.

Through the US$174,000 worth partnership commitment, Bosire has said UjuziKilimo will provide intelligent agronomy information to eligible smallholder farmers affiliated to selected co-operative societies, national and county government agencies.

“The partnership with Wadson Ventures will allow us to provide increased food productivity interventions through the award-winning UjuziKilimo Farm Suite solution. The solution to be provided to farmer support organizations countrywide provides cutting edge information technology, analytical and planning tools to help farmers enjoy faster recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and locust invasion impacts,” Bosire said.

He adds that: “Both the Coronavirus pandemic and locust invasion episodes have visited untold suffering to local farmers ranging from supply chain disruptions, to crop destruction. This has occasioned massive losses and uncertainty that can be managed through applied technologies.”

This Pandemic has created unprecedented challenges with low-income farming communities

On his part, Wadson Ventures partner, Evans Wadongo, noted that the global COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges with low-income farming communities continuing to suffer heavy losses.

“Full or partial lockdowns to protect lives has affected food production and market access, not to mention the locust invasion challenge. At Wadson Ventures, we believe that the agricultural sector needs immediate and medium-term support to deal with these unfortunate eventualities. We are positive that our partnership with UjuziKilimo will go a long way in providing much-needed support to farmers, and by doing so, help in fighting food insecurity.”

Wadson is an early-stage venture capital firm that provides the necessary support for impact-driven entrepreneurs in Africa to solve critical social, economic and environmental issues affecting the society.

Kenya has seen the rise of agricultural technology (AgriTech), a form of technological innovation, encompassing data connected devices using information and communications technology, internet and artificial intelligence, agricultural biochemistry and biotechnology, innovative food and farming, farm robotics and automation, and smart warehousing and logistics.

AgriTech in Africa receives limited funding, owing to constraints relating to the business ecosystem. Agritech is a small but growing segment of the start-up universe that is aiming to improve or disrupt the global food and agriculture industry. According to a report released last year by Disrupt-Africa, since 2016, over US$19 million has been invested in the agritech sector in Africa alone, with the number of start-ups operating in the market increasing by 110% during the same period.

Kenya and Nigeria dominate the agritech market at the moment, with Ghana following. These three countries alone account for more than 60 percent of the active agritech start-ups in Africa.

Read also: COVID-19 response must target African agriculture and the rural poor(Opens in a new browser tab)

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