Leading the African agrifood tech revolution

AgVentures, a South African based agrifood tech investment company, recently raised an anchor commitment of R100 million from Acorn Agri & Food, a leading South African agrifood business. This will assist AgVentures to pursue its vision of unleashing Africa’s agrifood potential by investing in, and nurturing, innovative and disruptive technologies with the potential to transform the African agrifood sector.

Founded by Gerhard Visagie, AgVentures invests in early stage agrifood technologies in South Africa, Israel and Kenya and assists in the roll-out of these transformative technologies across Africa.

After numerous years in the agrifood private equity industry through his involvement with Acorn Private Equity and Acorn Agri & Food, Gerhard started to appreciate the tectonic shifts that is occuring in the global agrifood industry, and especially in Africa. Amidst a wave of change and disruption in various industries over the past decade, agriculture finds itself as the least digitised industry in the world according to McKinsey.

“This is about to change rapidly” says Gerhard. “We are at the start of an agrifood tech revolution in Africa and many legacy business models will be disrupted over time.” Advancement in enabling technologies such as mobile connectivity, smart sensors, cloud storage and computing, AI and data science is driving the opportunity for transformative agrifood technologies.

According to a report by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation and Dalberg Advisors, the African agritech sector has over 33 million users and has grown at over 44% p.a. over the last three years. In South Africa, Accenture estimates that the agricultural sector is one of the top two sectors with the highest potential to benefit from digital transformation. “AgVentures aims to be at the forefront of these foundational changes in an industry that is in dire need of transformation.” concluded Gerhard.

AgVentures is actively pursuing agrifood technologies that fundamentally alter the status quo while addressing real customer needs. The business should be scalable and capital light, with competent founders who possess deep industry experience. These technologies may include digital platforms, farm management software, data analytics and AI, biotechnology, robotics and drones, smart irrigation, innovative animal production and health, food waste reduction, innovative food technology, safety and traceability systems, and sustainable packaging.

AgVentures’ first investment, concluded in 2019, is in an Israeli company called FruitSpec which developed patented technology to provide accurate early season fruit yield estimates to growers. FruitSpec is disrupting the current labour intensive and archaic method of estimating fruit yields and have achieved results which are unrivalled in terms of accuracy and consistency, according to AgVentures. With operations in North America, South America, Europe and Africa, FruitSpec is taking the fruit industry by storm. AgVentures also obtained the exclusive distribution rights of FruitSpec in Africa and is actively marketing it to South African fruit producers.

With a dedicated team, support from Acorn Agri & Food, an anchor investment in FruitSpec and numerous opportunities in the pipeline, AgVentures is well positioned to lead the African agrifood technology revolution.

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