Six young technology innovators in Africa’s agriculture and food sectors, including Kenya’s Esther KImani, have won cash prizes in the Pitch AgriHack 2022.

The 8th edition of Pitch AgriHack saw applications from 37 African countries looking to win their share of US$45,000 to invest in the growth of their ventures.

The winners had a chance to present their businesses to delegates at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF). At AGRF, they participated in an agribusiness match-making platform, the AGRF Agribusiness Dealroom. Over 800 companies, 15 government delegations and 150 public and private investors convened at the Dealroom to generate exciting new opportunities. “Pitch AgriHack is about creating impact through investment in the young agritech entrepreneurs of Africa.” said Mumbi Maina, Agribusiness Dealroom Lead at AGRA. “Beyond the prize money, we seek to catalyse relationships between our finalists and future collaborators and investors. These are the relationships that will revolutionise the food system.”

Competing in three open competition categories, Early-stage, Mature- or Growth-stage, and Women-led, the Pitch AgriHack winners and runners-up were allocated cash prizes of $10,000 and $5,000 respectively. A fourth invite only category known as the AYuTe Africa Challenge, an initiative of Heifer International, will award grants up to US$1.5 million later this year to scalable ventures that are already generating measurable impact for Africa’s smallholder farmers.

In 2022, the AYuTe Africa Challenge will expand its role as an African agritech accelerator. New national competitions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda will be launched to offer young innovators a chance to secure the funding and visibility to scale their ideas and ambitions.

Pitch AgriHack 2022 judges were as follows:

  • Nixon Gecheo, Senior Program Officer – Digital Systems & Solutions for Agriculture at AGRA
  • Barbra Muzata, Head of Corporate Communications at Corteva AgriScience
  • Ken Lohento, Digital innovation Strategy Consultant at FAO
  • Victor Mugo, Head of Global Partnerships at the World Food Forum
  • Faith Dube, Head Business Development and Partner Services at Cassava SmartTech
  • Barbara Chivandire, General Manager-Reimagine Rural Africa at Higher Life Foundation

The Pitch AgriHack 2022 Winners are:

Early-Stage Winners

1. Winner: Imen Hbiri of RoboCare in Tunisia

Robocare’s patented multispectral disease detector is minimizing pesticides and boosting efficiency by helping greenhouse farmers in Tunisia catch and treat infections long before human eyes can even see it.

2. Runner-up: Donald Mudenge of Mbeu Yedu in Zimbabwe

Mbeu Yedu understands that seeds are currency. Their platform digitizes Community Seed Banks to give smallholder farmers access to greater seed-varieties, accurate planting information, agri-fintech products, value-added services, and buyers.

Mature and Growth-Stage Winners

1. Winner: Hamis El Gabry of Mozare3 in Egypt.

Mozare3 is an agri-fintech company that connects small farmers in Egypt to the agriculture supply chain. Their model combines contract farming, agronomic support, financing and market access to increase yields and income.

2. Runner-up: Allan Coredo of FarmIT in Kenya.

FarmIT innovatively combines crop mapping and market linkages to help Kenya’s vegetable farmers. They use satellite imaging, analytics, and AI to provide simplified agronomic advice, and link farmers confidently with big buyers with accurate yields predictions.

Women-led Agribusiness Winners

1. Winner: Esther Kimani of Farmer LifeLine Technologies in Kenya.

Farmer LifeLine helps Kenyan farmers to get ahead of pests and pathogens with a proprietary disease detection device that leverages solar-powered cameras, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, and Machine Learning.

2. Runner-up: Anaporka Adazabra of Farmio in Ghana.

With their Smart Greenhouse package, Farmio guarantees a 120% increase in productivity for Ghana’s farmers. Their SuperApp connects growers with investors, buyers, consumers, agri-experts, and service providers.

The achievements of the Pitch AgriHack winners were recognised at a Winners Showcase and Innovators Discussion Panel at the AGRF Summit. “Africa’s youth are bursting with ideas. They are hustling hard to turn dreams of stability and prosperity into a reality for themselves and their communities. For many of them it feels like the chance they need is just beyond reach. All they need is a friend to help them take a step towards self-sufficiency,” said Amanda Namayi, GoGettaz Lead at Generation Africa during the event.

Of the businesses applying for Pitch AgriHack, 20% are mature or growth-stage businesses and almost 80% are early-stage startups. This is partly due to the youth demographic of the competition. Looking, however, at other research sources, as discussed in the 2022 Generation Africa Call to Action released prior to the AGRF Summit, it is evident that there is a need for more financing and investment options for early-stage startups in Africa’s agriculture space. Many of the agritech innovators who reached the Pitch AgriHack finals have identified this problem and have financing options built into their offerings.