FMO and AfricInvest invest in Agritech Startup Aerobotics

15 Dec 2020

FMO and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation are pleased to announce their investment in Aerobotics, a South African AgriTech startup developing intelligent tools to the feed the world. Aerobotics enables tree and fruit farmers not only to monitor their crops but also to increase their overall yield and reduce their footprint, through a combination of satellite and drone imagery coupled with machine learning algorithms.

The investment is part of a ZAR 250mln Series-B round led by Naspers Foundry with participation from the FMO Ventures Program and the Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund. The funding will boost international expansion and technological development, as well as support Aerobotics’ local operations. 

Climate Smart Agriculture for Emerging Market Farmers

Aerobotics’ customers are farmers located across the world—from Africa, Australia, and Europe to North and South America. The company has developed an end-to-end solution providing farmers with data-driven insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to crops from pest and disease. The cloud-based application – Aeroview – is easy to use and provides actionable insights powered by AI-based analytics.

AgriTech companies like Aerobotics support climate-smart agriculture and help reduce water usage and farm inputs. By improving the overall yield per hectare, Aerobotics’ precision farming applications contribute to increased food security and the advancement of emerging market farming, helping to reach the standards of developed countries. Over the last year, the company’s technology solution has successfully entered the US market, where it is gaining momentum amongst large-scale tree and fruit farmers.

Squeezing the Juice on Yield Forecasting

In addition to its current product offering, Aerobotics is developing a yield prediction model for tree crops, an area that is still lacking a viable technology solution on a global level. The company has already been able to achieve promising accuracy ratios;      revolutionizing the agriculture industry as we know it.

With the investment from FMO and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation, Aerobotics will gain access to a large, international network of agribusinesses in emerging markets along with support from FMO’s knowledge partners such as the Wageningen University. 

Marieke Roestenberg, FMO Ventures Program Manager said, “I am extremely excited to onboard Aerobotics as a new investment of the FMO Ventures Program alongside our long-standing partners at Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund. It is truly inspiring to see Aerobotics, an Africa-born, -grown and -based, tech company develop one of the most promising AgriTech solutions for farmers active in orchard management globally. At FMO we are keen to promote its technology among our large network of agribusiness clients in emerging markets with the potential to create a ‘win/win’ scenario for Aerobotics and agribusiness companies alike. The importance of its solutions has been further highlighted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure. We look forward to being a valuable partner to the Aerobotics team.”

Yassine Oussaifi, Partner of Cathay AfricInvest Innovation added, “Starting with its first experiments in a citrus farm in the Cape Region in South Africa, Aerobotics has developed a unique precision agriculture solution, used in more than 18 countries across the globe, to provide valuable insight for farmers and insurance companies. We believe the team has the capacity to grow Aerobotics into a leading technology provider in the agriculture value chain and to bring precise data and accrued efficiencies across the broader industry. Through the Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund, we look forward to working hand in hand with FMO and Aeorbotics to further scale their innovative agritech solutions across the world.”

James Paterson, Co-founder & CEO at Aerobotics said, “Aerobotics is happy to partner with FMO Ventures and Cathay Africinvest Innovation to better serve our customers. Our strong relationship, coupled with this latest financial investment, will ensure that we continue to grow agriculture sustainably together. We are a proudly South African business and are proving that Africa can not only compete in technology innovation, but lead at the highest level.”

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