Thrive Agric, a Nigerian agritech startup, has received a $1.75 million co-investment grant from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) to launch a year-long project to support 50,000 smallholder farmers growing rice, maize, and soybean.
Thrive Agric has already helped over 140,000 farmers in Nigeria increase their capacities to meet supply, quality, and food safety standards required by domestic and export markets.
The company has accomplished this through bundling a variety of products and services normally out of reach of smallholder farmers, distributing them in rural areas through its networks, and partnering with agriculture organizations to expand upon these efforts.
The company is also big on leveraging technology to support and create better livelihoods for smallholder farmers across Nigeria and Africa at large.
Through its Tradr mobile app, for example, Thrive Agric gives farmers direct access to seed and other input providers, farm machinery service providers, and off-takers within their locations. Likewise, its Tmoni mobile app provides customers with a digital wallet on their phone, which they can use to send, receive, save, and borrow money.
“Existing efforts to support smallholder farmers tend to follow traditional approaches to boost their agricultural productivity, such as commercial firms integrating them into value chains through modern inputs,” said Ayodeji Arikawe, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Thrive Agric.
“We know that most smallholder farmers, particularly women and youth, require more nuanced support to facilitate their participation in markets and, ultimately, increase food security and incomes at the household and national levels.”
As part of the project, Thrive Agric will use its proven, forward-thinking strategies and technology to assist targeted farmers in Kaduna, Kebbi, and Kano States. All project beneficiaries will be either women or youth.
The 50,000 smallholders tapped to join the project will receive agronomy advisory services, pre-and post-harvest storage and logistics support, links to credit and agriculture insurance products, and access to the company’s current and future mobile apps. As part of its partnership with the Trade Hub, Thrive Agric has committed to raising at least $10 million to fund this support.
The project’s success will see at least 50,000 metric tons of rice, maize, and soybean produced by the end of the 2021 season, which will be sold to premium markets and result in farmers enjoying higher-than-normal incomes.
In addition, the project will create 1,000 jobs for others involved in the agricultural value chain, including for prospective farm, field, and warehouse managers. Nearly 70 percent of these jobs will go to women, who are often overlooked for higher-paying managerial positions.
“I look forward to seeing the company’s success in using tech solutions to benefit these farmers,” said Michael Clements, Trade Hub’s Chief of Party. “The lessons learned through their tech-savviness can be leveraged to assist future partners seeking innovative avenues to assist stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.”