These Exciting Tech Startups are Helping to Advance SA’s Agriculture and Manufacturing Sectors

Drones Farming

Farming Drones Technology

Technology is transforming many sectors, this includes the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

Both industries have seen a number of startups rise up to the challenge to come up with innovative tech solutions to reignite these sectors – from drone technology, IoT and virtual reality (VR) to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and analytics, as well as 3D printing technology.

Agritech, in particular, is showing growth on the continent. According to a Forbes report, investments in agriculture technology in Africa have seen $19-million invested in the past two years, with the same report showing agritech startups have grown 110% in the period, with Kenya and Nigeria leading the agritech market on the continent.

Revolutionising agriculture and manufacturing – Here are 7 startups that are doing exciting things in their respective sector.

1. Wala (Agriculture)

Wala Logo

Wala is a blockchain-powered financial services provider. The company earlier this year partnered with Dala, a crypto-token that enables instant, zero-fee, borderless micropayments, to provide 100,000,000 Dala token loans (equivalent to $10M USD) to 50,000 smallholder farmers starting in Uganda to purchase fertilizer, and in time, the same will be provided to local farmers in South Africa, Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Solving infrastructure issues – “The partnership will solve two infrastructure issues around the disbursement of capital and the distribution of high quality fertiliser.” – Samer Saab, co-founder and COO of blockchain financial platform Wala.

2. Aerobotics (Agriculture)

Aerobotics-LogoAerobotics is a Cape Town-based aerial data-analytics company that is changing how farmers manage their crops, and in turn, the future of farming. The company, co-founded by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer, provides farmers with a bird’s eye view of their orchards, with the aim of optimising crop yields and reducing costs.

Helping farmers make better decisions based on data – “Farming is quite a traditional industry, where decisions are generally made through knowledge built up from experience and insights from the ground. We are using cutting edge technology to help farmers make data-driven decisions, allowing time to be spent on what matters most. Our platform is one of the first that integrates aerial imagery from drones and satellites (giving us the benefit of scale) and ground imagery from the field. Further, we are focussed on developing deep insights for farmers, ensuring that the data is actionable.” – Benji Meltzer, co-founder of Aerobotics.

3. DataProphet (Manufacturing)

DataProphet LogoDataProphet is a machine learning company that develops and implements product development solutions to a wide range of industries, with a specific focus on the manufacturing sector. The company was founded by Daniel Schwartzkopff, commercial director and co-founder and Frans Cronje, co-founder and managing director.

Improving inefficiencies in the production process – “Modern manufacturers are all focused on three key priorities: speeding up production, improving the quality of manufacturing output, and reducing cost. In this, machine learning and artificial intelligence are emerging as the go-to technologies for driving enhanced process efficiencies while lowering operational costs and maintaining global quality standards.” – Daniel Schwartzkopff, co-founder and commercial director of DataProphet.

4. ArcAqua (Agriculture)

ArcAqua LogoArcAqua is a cutting edge food security company with a global vision to eliminate all food wastage by using ozone technology. The company converts tap water into a powerful sanitiser; this sanitisation is achieved within less than 10 seconds and has been proven to kill 99.9% of all known bacteria, which, besides reducing the risk of food poisoning, has the added commercial benefit of significantly extending the shelf life of fresh food – up to doubling it in certain instances.

Working to ensure food security – “Everybody at the moment everyday is driving for organic food with no chemicals in your food and nobody really understands the amount of chemicals that go into an apple or a pear or an orange and what we’re trying to do is reduce the amount of chemicals that we’re ingesting on a daily basis.” – Crispin Russell, ArcAqua co-founder and CEO.

5. DroneClouds (Agriculture)

DroneCloud Logo DroneClouds helps farmers find crop issues sooner by using drones, satellites and local agricultural experts. The Cape Town startup was founded in November 2015 when Theo Pistorius and David Campey entered the SA National Space Agency (Sansa) and Airbus Defence & Space (ADS) Innovation Challenge under the name DroneClouds, as a joint venture between IntegriSense and Afrolabs.

Helping agricultural businesses remain competitive – “Agriculture has seen a lot of new tools appear on the market in the past five to ten years, promising great yield increases, input reductions and cost efficiencies. Yet the act of farming has not changed significantly over millennia. Crops still need to be planted, managed, inspected, nurtured, and harvested. The competitive nature of the market has, however, placed new pressure on the farmer to get the maximum yield from his crop, while forcing him or her to protect the bottom line in any way possible. Thus the need to keep a close eye on the crop has become pertinent. And that is exactly where DroneClouds comes in to help.” – DroneClouds via Farmers Review Africa.

6. Adia Engineering Systems (Manufacturing)

Adia Engineering Systems LogoAdia Engineering Systems was founded by Phumlani Ntloko who has developed a mobile Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine to test prototypes for entrepreneurs – which can also do 3D printing – at less than a third of the cost of an imported unit.

Rapid prototyping making manufacturing cheaper – “At most times designers and product developers have to do proof of concept to convince investors and to raise capital for further development, so from our experience the idea on paper concept doesn’t work. Prototyping is at the heart of innovation, every product you see today was a prototype before. Nobody would believe you with an idea on paper. Most people start to listen and take you serious if you have something to show.” – Phumlani Ntloko, founder of Adia Engineering Systems.

7. Isazi Consulting

Isazi-Consulting-LogoIsazi Consulting is a data science company that applies rigorous, best practice scientific methods to extract meaning from data. The company was founded Ashley Anthony, Dario Fanucchi and Obakeng Moepya who are working towards the goal of building products to improve the lives of millions of Africans and advance African businesses by using advanced technology and data systems.

Helping companies remain relevant – “It’s a global fact that companies that are not data-driven will become redundant, and it has been our responsibility to make South Africans aware of this reality and to assist them with their digital transformation.” – Isazi Consulting via Destiny Connect.

This article was originally published in May 2018.
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Michelle Strydom
Michelle Strydom
I'm a journalist for online publication, SME South Africa. I'm a BA journalism graduate from the University of Johannesburg. My areas of focus when it comes to writing are entrepreneurs, startups, marketing and funding. I also enjoy creative writing and proofreading.