These 10 apps will help you practise farming in a modern way (in Nigeria)

When I was growing up, farming looked like a poor man’s business. My father practised subsistence farming and I hated most weekends when we went to farm.

(Backstory: My Dad, being a moderately paid senior civil servant kept a little portion of farmland just to serve the family needs, but most of the other farmers I knew growing up farmed full-time, were dressed less modestly and didn’t drive cars. It made it look like ALL farmers are broke)

…….. but that narrative is changing.

Today, farming in Nigeria is now becoming fashionable and profitable that it even has its own celebrities and young millionaires like Rotimi Williams, Tomato Jos lady, AfricanFarmer Mogaji, Cynthia Umoru as well as several other “agricprenuers”.

From top: Rotimi Williams, Umoru Cynthia, Tomato Jos lady and AfricanFarmer Mogaji (Don’t be surprised, his real name is Africanfarmer)

As the wave of “agric-prosperity” is blowing, the new perspective that many of us need to have is that a lot of opportunities exist in agriculture, but we need to unlock it by moving away from cutlass-and-hoes type of subsistence farming to modern way of agriculture. As a side project I recently started farming and I am so excited to see how technology startups are filling a lot of spaces in agriculture for every challenge farmers face. The good new is that while the previous generations depended on cutlass and hoe, today’s innovative farmers can leverage technology to his massive advantage.

I curated my top lists of such modern day tech innovations focused on agriculture in Nigeria.

(UPDATED Backstory: I now have a farm, in addition to my multiple tech jobs working as a growth strategist for startups. In fact, in one of my roles, I am leading growth for a suite of business accounting apps, one of which is focused on agricTech)

My curated list of must-have tech innovations and apps for modern-day farmers.

1. Hello Tractor

For farmers that want to practice farming at a commercial scale, getting access to tractors and modern agric tools is one of the biggest problems. Hello Tractor provides a modern, Uber-style way to rent tractor. With a simple SMS booking platform or mobile app, you can join their network of farmers paying for tractor services.

Hello Tractor homepage

2. ProbityFarms

This is a FREE all-in-one farm management and accounting platform to manage your farm operations, book-keeping and connect your goods to a ready-to-buy market. Currently in beta, the platform offers farmer insights about farming activities powered by machine learning at each stage (e.g, alert can tell farmer that they should not apply fertilizer on particular days if the weather forecasts that it could rain).

The platform also incorporate a cooperative farming management and a full suite of business accounting tool. The good new is that there is a forever free plan that you can start with (I encourage you to check it out).

ProbityFarms Homepage

Another notable startup for farm management is AgroInfoTech; a social enterprise with a suite of apps and Zenvus; an enterprise-focused farm management application that is built on top of a hardware IoT. The Zenvus suite consists of farm management apps designed to take the guess work out of farming.

3. FarmCrowdy

Do you want to farm by investing in farming projects? FarmCrowdy helps you to invest in any farming initiative of your choice by sponsoring a farmer. It is Nigeria’s first digital agriculture platform. It recently got accepted to 2017 batch of Techstars Atlanta, a US-based tech accelerator . Farmcrowdy is able to leverage the “wholesale” pricing it can get from its partnership with insurance firms, communities of farmers, as well as fertilizer and other agro-allied companies to give its subscribers up to 50% guaranteed returns.

Farmcrowdy homepage

It is noteworthy that Growsel is a similar initiative to farmcrowdy.

4. Releaf.NG

Releaf wants to help you get trusted buyers for your agric products. The company is run by Nigerian-American graduates from the most prestigious schools in US. They recently got funded by Ycombinator. Other notable startups in this space include OgaFarmer , Farmoly and Farmly (owned by AgriHub)

5. Compare-The-Market

This is a simple platform designed to compare the daily market prices of food crops and animals in Nigeria. A key part of their mission is to track, forecast and monitor price trends of agricultural commodities in Nigeria. The site is updated daily with both retail and wholesale prices to ensure that farmers can price their goods at competitive rates. It is owned by Rotimi Williams, the young agric millionaire with the 2nd largest rice plantation in Nigeria.

6. Cellulant.

In Nigeria, Cellulant worked with the Federal Government to launch an e-wallet programme to aid Nigerian farmers directly redeem government subsidized seed and fertilizer vouchers from retail shops and in effect double their income.

While Cellulant is “transforming” itself to a mobile payment company, Agrikore its agric-focused arm monitors the implementation of agricultural schemes where every farmer can have access to financial services, productivity enhancing technologies & best practices, access to markets for Inputs & access to output markets, all enabled via the mobile phone.

In order to make the vision become a reality, Agrikore has created an ecosystem that comprises of Governments, Development Partners, Financial Institutions, Input Suppliers, Farmers and Off-Takers.

Agrikore — showing the categories of schemes (Did you notice 14M farmers are integrated in Nigeria alone?)

7. AgroData

Many will agree that there is a huge gap between research institutes like IITA or FIIRO and farmers. This is making it difficult to commercialize agric research initiatives. AgroData is poised to be the link between agricultural research and the farming populace. Farmers can now have at their finger tips new knowledge on farming activities that can improve their yields.

8. WhatsApp

It is worth mentioning that “mobile messaging is the new internet” and platforms like WhatsApp, Line, Telegram and WeChat are leading the pack. Many farmers’ group are leveraging the group chat features of WhatsApp to create informal groups to facilitate discussions and share intelligence about farming practices. I and my partners belong to a few of such group chats on WhatsApp.

9. VoguePay.

Sending and receiving payment is a fundamental part of every business and VoguePay makes it easy for farmers to do so. Instead of asking your buyers to pay to your “hard-to-find, one-branch-per-city bank that might be too difficult to find”, you can send a“request to pay” digital invoice which you can share via simple link on social media or WhatsApp to your customer to get paid.

You can also create full-fledged eCommerce website with VoguePay. Opening an account on VoguePay is free and easy to set up yourself with this guideline.

Alternative payment solutions to VoguePay that farmers can use to sell their products include Paystack, Simplepay and cashenvoy.

10. Other useful tools

In addition to above, other tools which are super useful to the modern farmer is Google (you can always use it to find answers to any question or information). I also use NairaLand Forum, especially the agric section (there is even a whole thread populated with contact details of people interested in agric business)


Conclusion.

It might interest you to know that agric contributes about 22 percent of GDP and over 90 percent of employment, with a potential to add 21 trillion naira to the country’s GDP in 3 years.

There is no better time than now to consider investing in or practicing agriculture as the sector is getting a lot of attention from government, private sector and tech ecosystems. Even ventures capitalists are now funding agric initiatives at scale. Also social entrepreneurship platforms like Tony Elumelu foundation, the British Council and YALI are focusing their grant and mentoring programme towards agric initiatives.

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