Stories of resilience, innovation and impacts from agri-food businesses across Africa in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic!
Dripsol Company supplies customized drip irrigation kits that enable farming all year round without relying on the unpredictable rains. The Dripsol team strives to solve farmers’ problems and this has motivated David Githae, the Founder of the company, an...
Dripsol Company supplies customized drip irrigation kits that enable farming all year round without relying on the unpredictable rains. The Dripsol team strives to solve farmers’ problems and this has motivated David Githae, the Founder of the company, and his team to keep going despite the COVID19 pandemic. With Dripsol Company located in Nairobi where movements from and into the city have been curbed by the government in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, it is a challenge for the company to supply its goods and services to any other region except within the Nairobi metropolis. David confirmed that this has reduced their activities and sales by close to 90% and left their casual laborers with no job to do. However, the company still manages to embody resilience in this period. In order to help fight the pandemic, the Dripsol team has used the free time to design a ‘contactless tap’ which automatically goes on when hands are placed beneath it and goes off when one is done cleaning hands. This eliminates the need to touch the tap before and after washing hands and hence highly effective in the fight against the Coronavirus. The tap runs using solar energy but can also be connected to the mains. The team has also developed an App that enables farmers to check their farms remotely, providing real-time parameters such as humidity, temperature, soil moisture content, and photos of the farm. The pictures enable the farm owner to see the progress of the crops thereby minimizing movements toward reducing the spread of the virus. Using the app, farmers can irrigate their farms remotely, and once the farm attains the required moisture, irrigation stops automatically. The team is currently looking for stakeholders including institutions, investors, governments and donors to work with on these new projects.
David’s message to other agri-food businesses in Africa
“I give you Adda Birnir's words: "Remember: Every day is a new opportunity to get up and do it better than yesterday!" So, despite the challenge that we are facing, let us come up with solutions that will heal the world and ensure we continue feeding humanity with the right foods through innovations. Profits will come as a reward for our good deeds.”
Soilless Farm Lab (SFL) is focused on tackling SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, and 13 using technology, maximizing food production in the laboratory, and training others in soilless farming. Although SFL has been unable to provide its farm set-up services due to the...
Soilless Farm Lab (SFL) is focused on tackling SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, and 13 using technology, maximizing food production in the laboratory, and training others in soilless farming. Although SFL has been unable to provide its farm set-up services due to the ongoing pandemic, the team has shifted focus to one of its service offering; teaching people how to grow their foods online. Leveraging Thinkific, an online knowledge-sharing platform and DIY videos, Samson Ogbole, the SFL lead and his team are able to engage clients. The team is currently also installing technologies to allow for remote monitoring of the farms that they were supposed to monitor physically before the spread of the virus. They are also working with other technology-driven farmers to develop solutions to surmount the challenge of access to inputs and pool resources for transportation and storage.
Samson’s message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
“This is a phase – a phase that will change how food security will be achieved. Entrepreneurs need to find a technology that will help you increase efficiency, productivity and profitability. Do not give up, do not cut corners, reach out to colleagues – it is wisdom to ask for help, this phase too shall pass.”
Shambapro Limited is an ag-tech company that provides farmers with access to quality farm inputs. Via its online platform, farmers can search, order and pay for farm inputs by Mobile money and have their purchase delivered to them anywhere in Rwanda. Initi...
Shambapro Limited is an ag-tech company that provides farmers with access to quality farm inputs. Via its online platform, farmers can search, order and pay for farm inputs by Mobile money and have their purchase delivered to them anywhere in Rwanda. Initially, as the country went on lockdown, Shambapro had to close the company’s Farmers Shop in Kayonza District of Eastern Province in Rwanda. However, the agriculture sector was later declared as an essential service in Rwanda and Shambapro swung back into full operation. Kelvin Odoobo, the Founder of Shambapro affirmed that this has created a new selling opportunity for the company’s e-commerce platform. Shambapro has aggressively turned to social media especially Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp to promote its product offering, direct more traffic to its portal and engage with potential clients who are spending most of the time online due to the lockdown. Based on feedback and validation obtained from clients via social media, Shambapro has proceeded to create and launch a new product called ‘Shambapro Urban Vegetable Gardens’ – a packaged bundle of seeds and services delivered to urban homes toward helping them to engage in farming and serve an assortment of fresh organic vegetables on their tables. Shambapro will supply everything needed for the customers to set up an urban farm in their homes, help them to set up, and give them online management tips. Shambapro has over 20 pre-orders at only the concept stage of the product, showing a rising need by the Rwandan urban population for alternative food production methods during this pandemic.
Kelvin’s message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
“COVID-19 has re-emphasized the importance of the agri-food industry. The classification of the sector as an essential service indicates the realization that even under the most total lockdowns, people still need to eat. Entrepreneurs must seize the opportunity to execute as much as possible by trying out all possible strategies that can create long-term sustainable wealth for themselves, their families, and communities. There might never be another opportunity like this in a long time.”
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We believe it is important to highlight the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agriculture and food sector as well as the positive and innovative ways entrepreneurs across the sector are pushing on through these hard times.More