Stable Foods, a Kenyan agtech startup building ultra-low-cost food production systems within smallholder farmer communities, has raised a US$600,000 round from Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF) and Mercy Corps Ventures to build out its climate-smart smallholder food production platform.
“Stable Foods is another great addition to ARAF’s portfolio companies where we invest in innovative business models that help smallholder farmers adapt to #climatechange,” says Tamer El-Raghy, Managing Director of Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF).
“The negative impact of climate change on rain patterns can’t be overstated and we believe that the Irrigation-as-a-Service solution that Stable Foods is offering represents a revolutionary service in the market.”
Food systems in Africa are plagued by two central problems: high food prices and subsistence-level income for smallholder farmers.
These two realities are major contributors to food insecurity on the continent, with upwards of 50-80% of household incomes spent on food consumption on the continent.
Low yields for farmers, income instability, fragmented value chains and extractive monoculture agricultural practices are among the critical factors contributing to these problems at either end of the chain.
Yet, Africa has the potential to improve agricultural productivity 4-5X mainly through yield improvements by smallholder farmers. the startup unlocks this hidden smallholder potential at scale.
Stable Foods’ integrated solution includes Irrigation-as-a-service, provision of inputs, access to the market, and training on regenerative agriculture.
These services are offered as a menu to smallholder farmers, allowing them to layer solutions as suit their individual needs. The proceeds of the round will be used to scale up Stable Foods’ proof of concept to 500 farmers by the end of 2023.
“It is widely accepted that there is a massive productivity gap in smallholder farming AND implementing irrigation is known to catalyze increases in yields and income,” says Daniel Block, Investment Principal at Mercy Corps Ventures.
“Yet, fewer than 3% of smallholders access irrigation today, primarily due to lack of affordability. Until Stable Foods. Leveraging shared capex through networked irrigation solutions, Stable Foods has proven economies of scale can drive down the cost per unit for farmers and make irrigation work for even tiny plots of land at a price point that is very affordable to any smallholder.
“We often think of innovation as a new technology, though sometimes – and Stable Foods gets this – redesigning existing systems and executing to solve a true customer pain point is the most successful innovation of all.”