Modernizing an old industry using Agriculture Technology

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by: Christopher Tang

Venture capital community is getting excited in investing in agriculture technology to modernize the agriculture sector – a US$ 7.8 trillion industry representing 10% of global GDP. By 2015, the venture capital invested over US$4.6 billion on different agriculture technologies including agriculture drones, online markets, online knowledge sharing platforms, etc.

In Kenya’s highlands, farmers grow tea, beans, mangos and bananas, but they find it hard to know when the harvest and send them to market. Without any form of coordination, farmers can end up waste their time and effort when too many farmers sell the same type of fruits in the same market. When this happens, they have to haul their fruits back to the farm to feed them to the animals.

Through a grant from the Gates Foundation, MasterCard Lab for Financial Inclusion launched 2KUZE in 2017. 2KUZE is a mobile platform that connects smallholder farmers, traders, buyers, and banks in East Africa. Through this mobile app, farmers can use their mobile phones to check on the prevailing market price for certain fruits in the market. If they decide to sell their fruits at the prevailing price, they can conduct the entire transactions of selling produce and receiving mobile payments without facing price risks.

Besides this mobile market platform 2KUZE, WeFarm, an agri-tech company based in the UK, has developed a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for farmers to exchange text messages about different farming techniques. Other agri-tech mobile platforms enable farmers to upload pictures of pests from their mobile phones so that other farmers can offer suggestions to control these pests. With the support of these new agriculture technologies, farmers are improving their yield. This way, farmers can grow more and sell more, when consumers have more affordable food to eat.

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