- Maryanne Gichanga participated in the COP27 Youth Adaptation Challenge in Egypt and won by a landslide.
- In 2022, many investors backed up startups developing biological fertilizers, vertical farms and robots.
A young African woman is changing the pace of agriculture by implementing agritech to sustain her new livelihood. This Kenyan agripreneuer has discovered her green thumb by applying data analysis to detect pests and account for the resources a farm requires depending on size.
This innovative ex-banker is proving that Agritech is the next phase of Africa’s oldest and long-lasting economic activity. Africa’s digital transformation might encompass more than our manufacturing and financial industries.
Kenya’s queen of agritech
It is common knowledge that agriculture in Africa is a significant economic activity. Small-scale farmers from all over the continent bank their lives and their next meals to their lands. However, only a few view it as a first option due to its long history and struggle with poor economic and climatic conditions.
For many people, agripreneuership comes as a forced option in life. But as the world shifts into a digital age, significant others think that being an African business farmer only pays dividend out if you go on a large scale.
Fortunately, this is not the case for young Kenyan agripreneuer, Maryanne Gichanga, who left banking for the farms. Maryanne dived into the world of agriculture in Africa two years ago and embraced emerging technologies in the sector to improve her yields.
She grew up in North Kinangop, where her parents were business farmers. Their efforts and skills in the farms fed and educated her and her sibling. Unfortunately, due to adverse climate changes in recent years, what was one productive farm is now a barren stretch of land.
This issue has plagued most small-scale farmers in Kenya, who account for the majority of exports for agriculture in Africa. But when everyone saw an irredeemable problem, Maryanne saw an opportunity. Through her ingenuity, she is delivering Agritech Analytis as a subcategory of the rising agritech. Agritech is a wordplay merging agriculture and technology. It recently emerged with the evolution of technology and has aided numerous farmers throughout Africa.
Since founding Agritech Analytics, she has successfully collected and analyzed data. This way, she has enabled farmers to efficiently use crop inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides, tillage and irrigation water through precision agriculture. Due to its rudimentary approach to agriculture in Africa, Agritech Analytics has received global and local recognition by onboarding at least 3,880 farmers from Nyandarua, Uasin Gishu and Kiambu.
The journey of the Kenyan agripreneuer
Due to the long-standing history of Agriculture in Africa, discovering, let alone implementing new Agritech techniques, took a lot of work. The 33-year-old had to use her entire saving to start the innovation since the innovation heavily relies on advanced technology.
In addition, technology has integrated the use of mobile phones, giving farmers more accessible access to information. She further claimed that data collection and analysis also significantly drained her funding. Despite this, the Kenyan agripreneuer kept going since the outcome would aid most small-scale farmers around the region.
Fortunately, her innovative concept gradually received its desired recognition. She participated in the COP27 Youth Adaptation Challenge in Egypt and won by a landslide. This milestone was the turning point of her Agritech Analytics since it received additional funding from African Development Bank and Global Climate Adaption.
Unfortunately, other investors are hesitating to support the Kenyan Agriprenuer. Many of them claim that her Agritech technique is still a new concept, and they fear the possibility of low market potential. This is no surprise since venture capital investments into agritech and food tech startups received a significant blow causing most startups to go under.
In 2022, many investors backed up startups developing biological fertilizers, vertical farms and robots. However, most had questionable business models making most venture capitalists wary of any more agritech startups.
Fortunately, this did not deter the Kenyan agripreneuer as she still believed that agritech was Africa’s next phase of agriculture. She acquired several business farmers, and her findings have proven worthwhile.
The slow pace of agritech
Unfortunately, the adoption rate of agritech is not all too inspiring. Her technology soon ran into another hurdle since the adoption rate was not at its desired point. Her target market is rural farmers with limited technology exposure, making adoption slow.
This common problem has affected agriculture in Africa. Since most small-scale farmers reside in underdeveloped regions, deploying any agritech technique has proven costly. Agritech Analytics requires sensors, drones and satellite imagery, big data analytics, machine learning algorithms, government incentives and policies supporting precision agriculture. Acquiring them is no easy feat, but Maryanne has yet to give in.
She stated that her next plan is to opt for revenue-sharing agreements. Doing so will make their new technology more accessible and affordable to business farmers all around Africa.
Armed with this new Argitech technology, this Kenyan agripreneuer might usher in a new era in Africa’s oldest economic activity.