Africa’s agricultural output is much lower than its potential. Africa has a quarter of the world’s agricultural land but produces less than a tenth of its food. In comparison, China has 10% of the agricultural land and produces 20% of the world’s food supply.
There are several complex reasons for this. One of them is the lack of right inputs. Agriculture in Africa is reliant on 65 million smallholder farmers who have limited access to farm machinery and quality seeds and fertilizers. The average farmer has no access to credit and no options to deal with external shocks such as bad weather conditions. Only about one percent of smallholder farmers in Africa have insurance.
Africa has a quarter of the world’s agricultural land but produces less than a tenth of its food.
Traditionally, the transaction costs of serving farmers have been too high to permit commercial models. However, a new wave of technology-driven ventures are trying to prove that large segments of smallholder farmers can be served viably. This is possible by using tech-enabled solutions that simply did not exist 4–5 years ago, such as insurance and credit underwriting through satellite data.
Apollo Agriculture is at the forefront of this revolution. It is one of the few ag-tech players that provide a complete set of solutions for farmers to improve their incomes: high-quality seeds and fertilizers, granular agronomy advice, and yield insurance in partnership with Pula (a Flourish Ventures portfolio company).
However, farmers earn after harvest and rarely have the money to buy high-quality inputs before they plant. To solve this perennial cashflow timing mismatch, Apollo also helps farmers to purchase inputs on credit and pay it back after they have sold their harvest.
Apollo Agriculture is one of the few ag-tech players that provide a complete set of solutions for farmers to improve their incomes: high-quality seeds and fertilizers, granular agronomy advice, yield insurance, and credit to purchase inputs.
We are proud to be able to support the Apollo team and this TechCrunch story highlights the details of the US$6mn Series A.
Apollo has already served over 40,000 smallholder farmers and plans to grow that number manifold in 2020. The COVID-19 crisis, which is threatening food security across the globe, has only highlighted the challenges smallholder farmers face. We believe ventures like Apollo will play a crucial part in the solution and are privileged to be part of the journey.
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