Starting and running a startup isn’t easy at all. And when you are bootstrapping and having raised investment, the difficulty goes up a notch higher. Every day and every week, you keep grinding, faced with challenges you must solve to remain afloat; sometimes you are not sure if you would make it to the next month. That has been our experience at kitovu.com.ng.
Just last week, my team and I celebrated a huge victory. We successfully got three individuals to give us 1.5 Million Naira for which we were going to give them 12% ROI in three months. What did we need the money for? To complete the outstanding balance so as to pay upfront for the custom blending of fertilizers; a precondition giving by our Fertilizer partner. And then, we sold it all!! And the best part of our story? We returned the money and the ROI in just two weeks!!! 1.5 Million Naira seems so little but it stood between us and the next step in our journey.
You see, Kitovu takes an unconventional approach to ensuring that we can fulfill our objective of helping farmers make more money off their farms. We aggregate soil data which enables us to custom blend fertilizers to take into account soil nutrient levels, and crop nutrient needs. That way, we have been able to consisitently triple crop yields. But that’s not all we do, we also collect market demand data to obtain insight on what farmers should grow to maximize offtake from commodity buyers.
This week, we are face with a new challenge, and like all the challenges we have faced in the past, it appears like its make or break. We have to train 300 youths in Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Ebonyi, Oyo, and Ogun States, in extenstion, soil management and demand aggregation. These young people would work with farmers to raise their yields and create income for themselves as well while at it. The snag is that we are out of our wits end as to how to make this happen. These trainings are free becuase we target completely unemplyed youths. We have no money to pay for venues, accomodation, their transportation or even to feed them! So why did we go ahead and issue a call for applications, have thousands apply, and go ahead to shortlist candidates who now wait for us to give them feedback on when we kick off? Because my team and I are convinced that like all other challenges, this too would pass, and successfully too!
63% of all unemployed people in Nigeria are young people,and we hope that through this approach, we can help a lot of young people create incomes for themselves, while ensuring that Kitovu’s commitment of helping raise the incomes of smallholder farmers they work with from under $1 a day to at least $3. But we need your help, your encouragement and sponsorship. It would cost us just about $45 to train one young person and I know with your help we can make it happen. If you would love to help us continue on our journey, you can sponsor at least one young person. Kindly mail us with your support at email@example.com. You can also bring this to the attention of people who might love to help make this happen. Thank you for your help!
Some weeks back, we launched a call for applications. It was targetted at young people who would be interested to join the Kitopreneur Initiative. We were amazed at the quality and number of applicants who wanted to be a part of this project. But what is the Kitopreneur Initiative?
The Kitopreneur Initiative is a social project of Kitovu Technology Company targetted at young people who are passionate about agriculture, and interested in creating an income for themselves from the agricultural value chains. We set up the initiative to train young people in extension, soil management, demand aggregation techniques, and financial record. These young people would then work with farmers in different localities to make more money off their farms. The first cohort of the Kitopreneur Initiative focuses on Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Oyo, and Ogun States.
In essence, the Kitopreneur becomes his own boss, using our technology to collect relevant data that alows us provide farmers with soil and crop specific inputs that have been guaranteed to increase yields. At the same time, they would be able to feed farmers with information from our demand data pipeline, on what to grow so as to guarantee offtake. By helping farmers grow to specifiactions at higher yields, farmers are able to make money. But the Kitoprneur is also in business, making money off every transaction. In addition, the Kitopreneur Initiative would reward hardworking and resourceful Kitoprenurs by giving them loans to start their own farms by the second year.
Today, we gladly unveil the successful applicants, and wish them success as we move to the next phase of the project. Happy Cheers to the Kitopreneurs!
Growing up, most of your peers would rather die than take up a career in agriculture. Parents were not left out; they would probably perform an exorcism session for their children if they didn’t choose to be in the “professional courses”. And most of us know why!
The brutal truth is that the earning potential of farms in Nigeria is very low with crop yields at a third of global yield averages and post harvest losses at 40-60% annually. No wonder being a farmer then was synonymous to being poor. This is not supposed to be so, and Kitovu is working to change that.
Kitovu provides an end to end solution for farmers, from farm to market. First, we use soil data collected using remote sensory technology to provide farmers with soil and crop specific fertilizers, certified seeds and cultivars, and vegetation specific agro-chemicals; which when combined with agribusiness best practices we provide through partnering independent micro-entrepreneurs has helped farmers increase yields by more than a factor of three. Secondly, through market demand we collect, analyze and aggregate, we are able to give farmers information on what to grow, when to grow, and varieties to grow so as to guarantee offtake at fair prices.
Are you a farmer? Do you know someone who is a farmer? Are you an organization that works with farmers, run an outgrower scheme, or you own your own farms and would like to increase productivity? Are you a commodity buyer, whether as a processor or an exporter, looking to ensure guaranteed supply of high quality produce that is traceable; when you need, and where you need it. If your answer to any of this questions is yes, then Kitovu is your friend and partner!
Reach out to us today and take your farming to the next level by following this link: http://kitovu.com.ng/offerings/
You can also call +2348062148183 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on a journey to profitable farming. Join us on the journey to transform African Agriculture. Thank you!
Most of the world’s poorest people are smallholder farmers and make up 75 % of the people who survive on less than $1 per day. This level of poverty results primarily from very low yields (compared to average global yield), as well as high postharvest losses. This is why we founded Kitovu to solve these problems and increase the incomes of smallholder farmers.
The Kitovu team firmly believes that improving the use of inputs by farmers has the potential to lift millions of smallholder farmers out of poverty. To achieve this, a system must be in place that matches the right composition and quantity of fertilizers, good quality or improved seeds, and other inputs to farms’ actual soils and sites.
But for any system to work; it must be driven by people, and we believe that the best people to drive these transformation are young people, who are visionary, committed, intelligent and passionate about changing the lives of farmers, one locality at a time.
Are you a young person:
- Aged between 18 and 35?
- Resident in one of the following states (Ebonyi, Kaduna, Oyo, Ogun, Niger, Kano)
- Passionate about agriculture and helping farmers improve their crop yields
- Who has and can use a smartphone
- Hard working and teachable
- Willing to start your farm by the 2nd year with financial assistance and business support from Kitovu
- Able to attend a one week boot camp in selected state of residence, If the above describes you, then you are a potential Kitopreneur!
Kitopreneurs would undergo extensive training on extension, soil testing, demand/supply aggregation, value chain analysis, agribusiness best practices and sales, and stand the chance of making over Hundred Thousand Naira monthly supplying farmers inputs and aggregating produce. The only limit to how much a Kitoprenneur can make is the one they place on themselves! So, what are you waiting for?
Applications end on Monday, 9th April 2018, so apply now! Note that only shortlisted candidates would be contacted for interview.
For further enquiries, call us on 08062148183 or mail us at email@example.com
A couple of years back, we were confronted with very grave problems that faces smallholder farmers across Sub-Sahran Africa; and we decided we were going to dedicate a great chunk of our lives to solve them. In Nigeria, most of the farming is carried out by smallholder farmers, who number about 64 Million. Unfortunately, most of their production isn’t based on actionable market demand data. So, we have a situation where farmers are growing a “lot”, but not according to the required standards and specifications that processors and commodity offtakers would prefer; creating scarcity in the midst of surplus, which contributes to post harvest losses. Which is one of the reasons why post harvest losses range between forty and sixty percent annually. But that is far from all that ails the Nigeria agricultural sector. Crop yields are very low, with productivity at a third of global yield averages.
So, in steps Kitovu, a mobile based platform that aggregates soil, geo-location and market data; which we use as a tool to ensure that farmers are able to get fertilizers that suit their crop types and the location of cultivation, matched to the best seedlings required to guarantee increased yields, while connecting farm produce to offtakers.
We have structured our offerings as Farmpack, FarmSwap, and eProcure. FarmPack is a bundled offering that consists of soil and crop specific fertilizers, improved seedlings, agrochemicals, and extension, while with FarmSwap, we cater to the needs for micro-credit for inputs, of farmers who do not have funds to finance the purchase of FarmPack, but are comfortable with paying us at harvest with their produce. eProcure on the other hand is is a produce supply service for processors and commodity exporters; which enables them to to source produce to their required specifications hassle free. You can find out more here http://kitovu.com.ng/offerings/
In the coming weeks, we shall be kicking off a call for Kitopreneurs. Kitopreneurs are micro-enterpreneurs we train in extension and advisory to provide last mile services for farmers. Working with our platform, they would work with farmers in their locations to improve their yields. The extension and advisory they provide for farmers would be totally free. We hope to reduce youth unemployment in Nigeria while ensuring food security and increased income for smallholder farmers. The net winner is the economy.
We would not be rolling out a call for Kitopreneurs across all States of Nigeria at the moment; just six focus states, which we shall reveal in the coming weeks. Do you have a feedback for us, or you would love your state to be part of the six states, you can get in touch with us. At Kitovu, we are helping ensure the future of food; one locality at a time!
The end to the ongoing scarcity of tomatoes may be in sight and Nigerians can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as researchers say that a pesticide capable of killing a species of moth that has ravaged the crop. Some weeks back, Nigerians woke up to the news of the destruction of the tomatoes value chain in six states of the country, namely Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos; by a moth, Tuta Absoluta or Tomato Leaf Miner, locally called Tomato Ebola. The moth attacks the leaves of the tomato plant, and larvae produced by the moth feeds voraciously on the plants causing a 100 percent loss in yield. This led to scarcity of tomatoes which are a central ingredient in many Nigerian dishes and very much part of the diet wit the price of a basket of tomatoes soaring from $1.20 (£0.80) three months ago to more than $40; this also meant so many Nigerians couldn’t afford it.
According to Daniel Manzo Maigari, Kaduna state’s commissioner for agriculture, some 200 farmers in the state have collectively lost more than $5m over the past month in. The governor of the state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, is quoted as saying that 80 percent of Kaduna’s tomato production was destroyed declared a tomato state of emergency in the sector. Kaduna state is deemed by the U.N. to be the tomato capital of Nigeria.
The insect allegedly invaded Nigeria from Niger republic and because of the lack of knowledge about it, or even containment measures that could have been taken, the disease spread like wildfire, leaving huge losses for tomato farmers in its wake. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, “the highly reproductive nature of the tomato pest coupled with the favorable environment and lack of management knowledge for containment resulted in its spread like a wild fire without any challenge. This development had led to the destruction of tomato fruits in Nigeria.”
Now, the Nigeria’s National Research Institute for Chemical Technology says it has found a solution – a pesticide which will kill off the moth. However, according to a BBC report, affected farmers would have to wait as the new pesticide is not commercially available yet. This is a welcome development. But much of this could have been averted using an early warning system.
It is a fact that crop pests and diseases are migratory in nature. For example, the pest Tuta Absoluta is said to have originated in the Tomato farms of South America. From there, it spread rapidly; one tomato producing country after another. When it enters a territory where it hasn’t been before, knowledge as well as chemicals for their containment would be very scarce. However, if there is an early warning system in place that can help identify the incident of a crop disease in some few farms before it hits the level of an epidemic, the damage it would do can be minimized. Its spread can therefore be curtailed effectively.
That is one of the solutions that the Kitovu Mobile Platforms brings; an early warning system that farmers can use to alert other farmers, research institutes, ministries of agriculture and other ecosystem stakeholders on diseases and pests that affect them. This would ensure that a solution can be found and dispatched in a timely fashion to farmers and so minimize widespread destructions.
With the Kitovu platforms, farmers are linked to federal and state ministries of agriculture, research institutes, meteorological stations, extension agents as well as Kitovu Knowledge Management Center. As soon as they notice any anomaly, they can immediately alert them and ask for help; which is provided to farmers speedily in real time. Beyond that, farmers can also ask for advice on the best inputs or herbicides to tackle very stubborn weeds and can receive information on the availability of improved varieties, ask for advice on the best time to plant considering changing climate, or even agricultural best practices from research institutes. That way, the agricultural ecosystem can be made very sustainable and losses in the proportion caused by Tomato Ebola can be forestalled. The net winner is Nigerians!
Post-harvest losses and wastage in Africa is at an all-time high, as a result, there is less total output per hectare of farm cultivated by farmer. This eventually makes farmers to want to cultivate much more farms to have more goods at their disposal. As a result, more land is cleared, leading to environmental degradation.
Farmers loose about forty percent of their produce annually. With Kitovu, most of what is produced by the farmer is easily made available to end users; individual users and manufacturers alike. Also, once its efficiency has been established, farmers who would have been trained on agricultural best practices and the use of less harmful organic fertilizers to grow their crops so as to continue benefiting from the service. That way, the use of indiscriminate and often times harmful chemical substances is limited and regulated thereby causing less harm to the environment.
By making their farming more sustainable through increased market access for them would lead to increased income for them by about forty percent, the same amount they would have lost to post harvest losses and wastage. Finally, with less wastage, there would be fewer emissions from gases released from putrefying food wastes.
It would also help create new jobs in farm logistics, as well as draw new entrants into farming as a result of a more profitable outlook to farming.
With Kitovu, farmers would have access to information that promotes sustainable agricultural practices, teaching them to use the best inputs and seedlings; all of which are ultimate drivers of an agricultural ecosystem that is both sustainable and profitable, which in turn would drive greater production. The long term beneficiary is Africa; her vast arable lands position her to be the hub that feeds the world.
KITOVU™ is an agricultural Mobile App as a Service Solution (MASS) consisting of a mobile app and SMS (USSD) Gateway cross-linked to a web portal; which creates market access for farmers while ensuring produce traceability, by linking them to manufacturers, produce buyers, as well as input buyers. The SMS gateway links farmers without smartphones to the Kitovu platform, ensuring that regardless of location, they have access to information, from improved seedlings to agricultural best practices that guarantees increased yield per hectare.
Several farmers find it difficult to sell their produce, leading to post harvest losses and wastage. According to Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Africa loses food valued at $4 Billion dollars annually to post harvest losses. Narrowing down to Nigeria, she loses 40% of all agricultural produce to wastage and post-harvest losses. All these are as a result of an absence