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14 April, 2016 - 13:25 By Tony Quested

New tool to support Third World agribusiness growth

AGRIinsight Ltd and Arcus Global, alumni of Allia Future Business Centre in Cambridge, have announced a technology partnership to develop an online mapping tool to support agribusiness growth in the developing world.

The partnership combines AGRIinsight’s 25 years of knowledge and expertise in the African agribusiness sector with Arcus, a leader in development, transforming government organisations using modern technology.

Arcus has taken an equity position in AGRIinsight and will provide specialist IT and cloud computing expertise to help develop the platform. AGRIinsight is set to transform the way that agribusinesses use data to make better, more informed decisions. AGRIinsight provides a set of tools for users to take a variety of business data and transform it into rich and relevant maps.

These maps can be overlaid with other publicly available sources of data including infrastructure, climate, soils or satellite imagery. The visual representation of the business data in context of other information is incredibly useful and valuable to businesses of all types and sizes.

AGRIinsight provides users of the platform with the ability to translate, visualise, and share – making relevant information easily understandable. This generates real insights – AGRIinsights.

The first version of the mapping platform will be tested in May with a set of early adopters from the public and private sectors in sub-Saharan Africa. The AGRIinsight platform will drive new investment into the African Agribusiness sector by consolidating and mapping information in a quick, reliable and easy-to-use format.

The platform will create new opportunities for income-generation; foster well-informed, profitable investments in this growing market and facilitate collaborations between investors, agribusinesses, farmers and suppliers.
Africa’s agriculture sector presents vast opportunities for socioeconomic development. With a world population increasing by a further 2 billion by 2050, global food production must double.

However, investment in sub-Saharan Africa remains a fraction of what is needed. One of the main obstacles has been the lack of reliable information available on agriculture in the region. Information, when it is available, is often in different formats embedded in word or pdf documents, excel spreadsheets or databases.

AGRIinsight overcomes these challenges by bringing together relevant and reliable data onto one platform. The platform will provide agribusinesses with an efficient and secure way to map, store and share information, locate, and contact suppliers, customers and investors online.

The mapping tools will also allow Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and other organisations involved in the sector to target their support and resources to maximise impact, improving logistical and operational efficiency and boost growth. Improved visibility and consolidation of reliable information will raise awareness of unexploited opportunities in the sector, driving investment by reducing both cost and risk.

Using the latest cloud computing technology and a smart phone, subscribers to the platform can add their own profile, location, data and requirements, and easily contact other agribusinesses, NGO’s and investors who have done the same.

One of the first users of the AGRIinsight platform is Aspuna Group, a commodities trading business who are setting up a commercial cassava processing plant in West Africa. They will use the interactive tools to map out and communicate with farmers they work with. Operational information relevant to the successful development of the cassava supply chain, such as seed varieties used and production data will be recorded and mapped onto the platform.

Maria-Yassin Jah, managing director of Aspuna noted: “The tool developed by the AGRIinsight team is fantastic. Incorporating this tool into our operations in the West Coast Region of the Gambia will help us optimise our supply chain. We are looking forward to a long-term partnership with AGRIinsight and the rolling out of their platform into other locations in the Gambia.”

Patrick Guyver, founder of AGRIinsight said: “Working in the agriculture sector in Sub-Saharan Africa for over 25 years, it has become increasingly clear that access to information is the major gap in the market, and the main obstacle to a better functioning sector capable of attracting greater investment.

“We strongly believe in the potential of the agriculture sector to generate wide-reaching positive change, while also delivering strong returns to investors. By providing clear, relevant, and usable data that can be tailored to each organisation’s individual needs, the AGRIinsight platform will plug the information gap and reduce the cost and risk of investing in African agribusiness, helping the region’s agriculture sector deliver on its potential. 

“We feel that providing access to relevant data in targeted and smarter ways will appeal to the younger generation of farmers in Africa. The introduction of cheaper next generation smart phones will open up a new world of possibilities for their businesses.

“It will enable them to collaborate with other agripreneurs to build a crowd-sourcing style movement to benefit all.”

Agriculture and agribusiness together are projected to be a $1 trillion industry with urban food markets set to increase fourfold to exceed $400 billion by 2030. This will require major agribusiness investments in production, processing, logistics, market infrastructure, and retail network.

“We are proud to partner with AGRlinsight,” said Denis Kaminskiy, CEO for Arcus Global. “We are using cloud technology to empower farmers, co-operatives and other agribusinesses with the ability to develop new business relationships with investors and stakeholders.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: (from left) Hamish Drewry of AGRIinsight, Denis Kaminskiy of Arcus and Patrick Guyver of AGRIinsight

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