AgVentures Invests in Online Farmer Marketplace
AgVentures, Africa’s pioneering agrifood tech investor, recently acquired a stake in Skudu.
Consumers are spoiled for choice with online marketplaces but the same cannot be said for the buyers and sellers of agricultural inputs and produce. This market is ripe for disruption. Skudu is ideally positioned to become the leading online marketplace for agricultural inputs and produce in Africa. Skudu’s innovative platform shortens the agricultural value chain and increases user choice by connecting buyers and sellers directly. The Skudu platform also helps farmers and their advisors to improve their input planning and accuracy.
Skudu is led by Cobus van der Merwe, an agri-industry stalwart, who is upbeat about the partnership: “We are excited to partner with AgVentures given its deep agri-industry and technology expertise. As Skudu we want to make it easy for buyers and sellers to find each other on Skudu. Saving them money in the process and helping them to increase their efficiency”. This sentiment is also shared by Gerhard Visagie, the CEO of AgVentures: “We were attracted to Skudu due to their highly experienced management team, ambitious plans and traction gained in a short space of time. We believe that Skudu will bring much needed innovation to the South African agrifood sector with future continental expansion being planned”.
In step with their goal of providing simplicity in a complex world, the Skudu platform consists of three components: the Market, Match and Exact modules.
Skudu Market makes it easy for farmers to find the same, or similar agricultural inputs from different input manufacturers, whereafter it enables them to request a quote from the suppliers that service their farm location. Farmers are notified when the quotes have been returned and are summarised on a single page from where the preferred quote can be accepted. At present the platform only supports fertilisers and ameliorants, but the expansion to other inputs is planned for the near future.
Skudu Match connects the buyers and sellers of agricultural produce on the platform and enables them to agree to and capture the terms of the transaction through a blockchain e-contract. As a first of its kind in South Africa, Skudu Match will greatly reduce the trading cost of agricultural commodities.
Skudu Exact gives farmers, or their advisors, control over their farm data and allows for greater accuracy in input planning. At present it allows for the planning of soil sample collection and enables users to manage their soil sample data once received from the analytical labs. The soil data can be processed through the proprietary Skudu Plant Nutrition Algorithm which automatically generates a detailed plant nutrition plan based on the soil sample results and crop attributes. Quotes can then be requested for the purchase of the fertilisers or ameliorants according to the nutrition plan. The generation of prescription maps, recommendations derived from satellite imagery and other expanded functionality is planned.
AgVentures is a pioneering investor with the objective of unleashing Africa’s agrifood potential through partnering with innovative privately-owned agrifood technology companies. To this end AgVentures plays an active role in enabling exceptional agrifood technology entrepreneurs to build their businesses and help them to expand across Africa.
AgVentures is actively pursuing agrifood technologies that have the potential to alter the status quo fundamentally while addressing real customer needs. Such businesses are scalable and capital light, are led by competent founders who possess deep industry experience and are passionate about agricultural industry and serving their customers. These technologies may include online marketplaces, software, app develoment, data science, biotechnology, robotics and drones, irrigation technology, innovative food technology, connected devices, and sustainable packaging. AgVentures is supported by its anchor investor, Acorn Agri & Food, a leading South African agrifood business.
Skudu is AgVentures’ second investment after investing in FruitSpec in 2019. FruitSpec, based in Israel, is disrupting outdated paper-based fruit yield estimations by replacing it with a patented computer-vision based system. Not only can FruitSpec provide accurate early season yield estimates, but they can also give a distribution of fruit yields and colours. This is invaluable for yield management, harvest planning and marketing management. With operations in North America, South America, Europe, China and Africa, FruitSpec is taking the fruit industry by storm.