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How FinTech Firms Are Tackling Africa’s Agriculture Challenges

Africa agriculture

FinTech firms are tackling everyday challenges across Africa by digitizing payments and providing increased transparency. Cellulant’s Agrikore and Tingg Marketplace offerings, for instance, seek to take on the continent’s food struggles. Cellulant Group Co-CEO Bolaji Akinboro told PYMNTS in an interview, “We believe that this solution can help solve food crises and hunger in Africa which has the landmass and climate to grow as much quantity of food that can feed the world. However, before we feed the world, we will need to feed ourselves as a continent.”

Agrikore, in one case, provides a smart-contracting, payments and marketplace system that is based on the blockchain. The company says it is, in essence, enterprise resource planning (ERP) for agriculture. Its goal is to ensure that all of the players in the agriculture value chain — from farmers to produce aggregators and financial institutions — can conduct business in a trusted environment. The Tingg payment gateway, on the other hand, enables the transfer of funds from buyers as well as subsidies from governments or development partners.

Cellulant is also rolling out Tingg neighborhood banking service points (Tingg NBS), which will encompass 6,000 sites that will trigger the creation of 200,000 agent points. “These points are set to become the defacto payment points for people in the rural area as they provide banked customers with access to previously limited banking services while the unbanked are integrated into the financial space,” Akinboro said. The company says a good number of the farmers it works with experience Agrikore via Tingg, as the payment technology powers how they find the aggregators that buy their grains. It also is behind how they receive payments, while helping them find and pay agro-dealers that supply them with agrochemicals.

To help farmers scale their efforts and increase their yields, Agrikore connects the farmer directly to all the players in the value chain. The system, in one case, links farmers to community produce aggregators as well as corporate commodity buyers. (While millions of small-holder farmers can’t easily and consistently find markets for their products, thousands of commodity buyers seek produce but can’t find farmers.) Both participants in the market, however, lack a basis for fair and transparent price discovery. “Tingg marketplace is the solution to this challenge as it connects both participants directly,” Akinboro said, as well as linking farmers with agro-dealers, input suppliers and financial institutions that provide credit to agro-businesses.

Overall, the agriculture market in Africa is projected to grow to $1 trillion by 2030. While the agriculture ecosystem in Africa faces challenges ranging from crop and livestock production to the last mile of reaching consumers, technologies like blockchain and mobile telephony from FinTech firms may help take on some of the challenges in the space.

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