by Joanne Carew

9 top agritech start-ups transforming farming in Africa

Jan 24, 2021
Artificial IntelligenceMarketsMobile

Sub-Saharan Africa’s agritech businesses are using IoT, drones, automation, AI and mobile technology to enhance agriculture in the region.

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Agriculture is one of Africa’s largest and most important sectors. Not only do the region’s farms provide food for the continent’s enormous population, they also serve as an economic lifeline for the countries across Africa that have a wealth of agricultural resources.

According to 2018 data from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), about 54% of Africa’s working class rely on the agricultural sector for their income and employment. But farmers across the continent have the odds stacked against them. Drastic fluctuations in weather patterns, a growing population and struggling economies have put the industry on the back foot.

In an attempt to address these issues, African agritech start-ups are looking to improve outdated farming practices using cutting edge technologies. With the help of drones, automated irrigation systems, intelligent software analysis, smart soil management, satellite photography and IoT networks, these ventures are helping farmers to boost productivity, improve yields and up their overall efficiency

Below, we list several African agritech companies that are challenging the agriculture status quo.


Year Founded: 2014

Headquarters: Cape Town

Co-founder and CEO: James Paterson

What they do: Aerobotics works with the agriculture industry using drones and artificial intelligence (AI) to help everyday farmers make smarter business decisions. The aerial imaging start-up’s software blends drone footage and satellite imagery with machine learning algorithms to provide early problem detection services to fruit and wine farmers. In doing so, Aerobotics helps these farmers to optimise crop performance.

Competitors include: Taranis, Geomatica

Customers: Fruit and wine farmers.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: Aerobotics recently raised $17 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. According to Paterson, the investment will be used to further technology development and product delivery in the US and across Aerobotics’ other core territories.

Hello Tractor

Year Founded: 2014

Headquarters: Abuja

Founder and CEO: Jehiel Oliver

What they do: In sub-Saharan Africa, the average farmer plants their crops 30 days late. Tractors help farmers finish jobs in hours instead of weeks. But tractors are a costly resource. Described as the “Uber for tractors”, the Hello Tractor app matches farmers looking for tractors with tractor owners looking for work. 

Competitors include: Axl, Cassava

Customers: Typically smaller farmers who are unable to afford expensive farming equipment, like tractors.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: In September 2020, Hello Tractor was selected as one of only 11 start-ups from across the globe to join Mastercard’s Start Path engagement programme. The programme provides start-ups with access to industry experts and infrastructure; helping them to grow, diversify their operations and build their business.


Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Lusaka

Co-founder and CEO: Mwila Kangwa

What they do: The AgriPredict web and mobile-based platform helps farmers manage the risks associated with farming, including drought, pests and disease. Farmers need simply take a picture of the problematic plant and the system uses machine learning to  provide an on-demand diagnosis, in addition to suggesting potential treatment options.

Competitors include: Aerobotics,

Customers: Small-scale farmers across Zambia.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: By leveraging ICT to boost food security, start-ups like AgriPredict have the potential to mitigate disruptions caused by crises like COVID-19. During their pilot, the venture provided 22 000 farmers with detailed information about plant diseases and weather patterns; insights that would only have been available from skilled agronomists. 


Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Cape Town

Co-founder and CEO: Russel Luck

What they do: SwiftVEE is a South African agricultural trading platform that conducts real-time online livestock auctions. SwiftVEE aims to optimise trade between the buyers and sellers of livestock, using AI technology to connect foreign livestock buyers with sellers across the South African market.

Competitors include: NetAuctions

Customers: Buyers and sellers of livestock.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: The agritech start-up raised $1.5 million in funding to expand into neighbouring countries and to grow their platform.

 “The investment and growth of swiftVEE demonstrates a significant change in attitude within the agricultural sector,” Luck commented about the funding. “Traditional agribusinesses appear to have recognised the importance of re-inventing themselves as COVID-19 accelerates the rate at which agriculture moves towards the fourth industrial revolution. In the age of new-normal the door has been opened for technology start-ups to create a new narrative.”


Year Founded: 2012

Headquarters: Nairobi

Co-founder and CEO: Stefano Carcoforo

What they do:  iProcure is the largest supply chain platform in Africa. It connects small-scale farmers with the manufacturers of agricultural inputs like animal feed, fertilisers and the plant protection products used in organic farming. Using iProcure, farmers can buy these supplies using mobile vouchers.

Competitors include: ChainPoint, AgriChain

Customers: Rural farmers looking to improve their supply chain management.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: The start-up provides farmers with access to key market information so that they have a clear understanding of customer needs and purchasing trends. This business intelligence enables data-driven stock management so that farmers can boost sales and product performance.


Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Iseyin, Nigeria

Co-founder and CEO: Emeka Nwachinemere

What they do: The Kitovu mobile app aims to help farmers increase their crop yield and improve access to markets. Many small-scale farmers are crippled by post-harvest loss and waste because they are required to sell their goods through intermediaries, who typically take a large portion of profits. To eliminate the middleman, Kitovu connects these farmers with the right processing companies and consumers.

Competitors include: iProcure

Customers: Small-scale farmers.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: With a wide range of features and functionality, Kitovu offers farmers all the resources they need to succeed. For example, Kitovu’s FarmPack provides insights into the purchase of crop-specific fertilisers, appropriate seeds and agrochemicals. And their user exchange feature, called FarmSwap, allows farmers to trade produce with other farmers. Another feature, called eProcure, helps farmers to improve their supply chain.

Complete Farmer

Year Founded: 2017

Headquarters: Accra

CEO: Desmond Koney

What they do: Complete Farmer makes it possible for industry to source produce directly from farms and for individuals from anywhere in the world to own a farm in Africa. Users can become a “crowd farmer” by investing in an African farm and monitoring its remotely. Complete Farmer also provides information around best practices and how to produce healthy yields; providing a data-driven way to make farming more scientific.

Competitors include: Livestock Wealth

Customers: Industries looking to source fresh produce from the source, as well as individuals looking for a fuss free way to “own” an African farm.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: In 2020, Complete Farmer was peer-selected as one of the winners of the Village Capital Agriculture Africa accelerator. The accelerator acknowledges the work of start-ups that improve outcomes for small farmers and address food security issues. Complete Farmer was one of nine start-ups selected for the programme and as one of the top two peer-selected ventures, the Ghanaian agritech secured $50,000 in funding.

Apollo Agriculture

Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Nairobi

Co-founder and CEO: Eli Pollak

What they do: Apollo Agriculture is a technology company that helps small-scale farmers maximise profitability. They do this by connecting farmers who typically lack access to the technology and resources with the resources they need to achieve better results on their plots. The start-up has developed its own app, platform and outreach programme to connect and engage with Kenya’s farmers.

Competitors include: Farmcrowdy

Customers: Smallhold farmers across Kenya’s population of 53 million.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: In May 2020, the company raised $6 million in Series A funding.  “It’s really about continuing to invest in growth. We feel like we’ve got a great product. We’ve got great reviews by customers and want to just keep scaling it,” said Pollak about the funding. That means hiring, investing in Apollo’s tech and growing the start-up’s sales and marketing efforts.

Livestock Wealth

Year Founded: 2015

Headquarters: Johannesburg

CEO: Ntuthuko Shezi

What they do: Livestock Wealth is a crowdfunding company that focuses on funding for cattle. The company connects investors with farmers that need funding using cattle as a form of investment.

Competitors include: SwiftVEE, Complete Farmer

Customers: People with no access to the land, time or skills needed to own livestock and run a professionally managed farming operation; including big retailers like Woolworths.

Why they’re a agritech start-up to watch: The livestock crowd farming platform recently expanded its offerings to include a shared farming project that buys, cares for and sells free-range, grass-fed beef.