Kitovu creates access to the market for farmers by using multi-platform compatible mobile applications which link manufacturers to retailers and consumers. It aims to solve the issues encountered by farmers in their business process from end to end i.e from farm to market. Many farmers in Africa are used to farming from the supply side without considering what is demanded in the market. Kitovu solves the problem of farmer supplies without information on demand by providing farmers with a platform with vital data to aid their decision-making. These data provided by Kitovu to farmers provide three broad insights which are what to grow, how to grow, and who to sell to. The Kitovu platform collects data from farmers and fields which are connected to remote sensing HDI. This enables Kitovu to run analyses on different farmland and come up with recommendations of valuable inputs to farmers. By providing the farmer with info on what to grow, it gives farmers a guarantee on demand for their product which means farming effectively for the farmers.
Sherif Tosin Akanbi
TIAS School for Business and Society
More specifically, the information provided by Kitovu to the farmers includes the following:
· Fertilizer Recommendation – This includes information on the type of fertilizers and how to apply the fertilizers across the farm based on the farm specification.
· Plant Health Analysis – This includes information on how well the crops are doing, the health status of the farm periodically.
· Water Stress Analysis – This informs the farmer about the water stress level of the farm and when to take action.
· Weather Report – This helps the farmer to plan their operations such as the type of pesticide or herbicide to use, based on the weather forecast.
The above analysis helps farmers to be better informed and updated which invariably makes them comply with the principle of adaptation to climate change.
Kitovu presently offers different options to farmers to have access to various innovative services. These options are subscription-based and include fertilizer recommendation, farm swap, farm pack, procure, plant health analysis, and outgrow management service. A farmer who subscribes to fertilizer recommendations for instance will have access to soil analysis, diagnostics, and fertilizer recommendations.
Following completion of his undergraduate studies, Mr. Emeka Nwachinemere, like many other graduates, loved to get a decent white-collar job for his upkeep. While serving his fatherland in the compulsory program for new graduates Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he got involved in farming. He soon realized that despite the amount of effort devoted to farming, the returns were not commensurate with his investment and what he had read in literature. He also encountered difficulties in locating and getting buyers for his farm products. These challenges formed a puzzle for Mr. Emeka which he turned to questions that he needed to solve. While he was still trying to solve these puzzles, he interacted with some farmers and realized they face the same challenges over and over again.
“My interaction with them puts me up to tell them. And (I) realized that these problems we are faced with are exactly what they face every year.” mentioned by Mr. Emeka
This problem causes a lower crop yield not just in Nigeria but across Africa, compared to global crop yield. In the process of trying to find a solution, Mr. Emeka noticed the major root causes which are: farmers don’t have much access to quality input and they lack the information needed to make an informed farming decision. These burning questions brought about a desire to ensure farmers earn decent incomes for their livelihood, create an ecosystem where more people are engaged and employed with a decent job, and also track farming from beginning to the end in a responsible consumption and production manner. Since then, Kitovu has worked with over 7,000 small-scale farmers and has helped to reduce their input cost by an average of 30% and at least double their yield simultaneously, while achieving almost 100% sales of their product.
Since farmers usually cannot obtain better purchase prices due to wholesalers' exploitation and unsatisfied crop qualities, Kitovu contributes numerous strategies to eliminate the information inequality between farms and markets and empower smallholdings' farming skills. While Kitovu is selling its soil and crop-specific fertilizers to smallholdings, via Kitovu's platform, farmers can also conveniently access essential information such as Health Plant Analysis to improve their cultivation. Meanwhile, by partnering with Kitovu, farmers can therefore erase the impact of unreasonable crop prices from middle sellers.
For Kitovu, to enable the young generation to obtain career skills is another impact for society. By creating decent jobs and stable income, unemployment would reduce and then effectively maintain economic growth.
"We effectively train young people. To that mean, they are creating a job for themselves. (There are) people who didn't have sufficient income before and (in that place) where the unemployment is over 60%. That's our approach to create decent work for them", as per Emeka.
Because of those approaches, the number of partnerships with Kitovu increases. And it reaches more than 7,000 small crop farmers currently.
Due to smallholdings' financial ability, Kitovu knows that providing products and services at an affordable price can be the most critical factor to win their trust. Kitovu only focuses on solutions that are truly proper to farmers with the lowest cost. So, the community adopting Kitovu's solution undoubtedly becomes one of the most beneficial groups among different parties. Until now, Kitovu has succeeded in aiming at more than 7,000 small crop farmers. By guaranteeing purchase prices and empowering the cultivation skill, farmers reduce 70% cost of cultivation and double those farmers' incomes compared with initial incomes.
As a Nigerian enterprise, Kitovu accumulated its local agricultural experience crossing every community in Nigeria. Yet, Kitovu's influence isn't restrained to Africa. Kitovu has translated its mobile application into English, French, and Urdu - the language is spoken in Pakistan. Based on multiple languages, Kitovu's solution can therefore deliver into those countries and aim at farmers tackling several similar obstacles.
One of Kitovu's contributions in the social aspect is to assure no poverty among the farmers involved. This social enterprise enlarges the farmers' income basis by increasing the purchasing corp price and reducing the learning cost at the same time, which helps those smallholdings partnering with Kitovu improve their livelihood.
As an agricultural enterprise, Kitovu develops a series of professional analyses for users to improve their quality. Based on these advantageous recommendations collected from big data, farmers can efficiently reach a better crop harvest without additional cost. The abundant and qualified harvest assures a sufficient food supply to communities. So Kitovu's solution can eliminate the risk from food storage and starvation.
Decent Jobs and Economic Growth
Kitovu dedicates its efforts to building a decent working environment. Kitovu helps farmers to gain dignity by creating jobs for themselves and overcoming the exploitation from wholesalers, which leads farmers to have satisfying income. In Kitovu's solution, each farmers' effort can exactly transfer into an accountable outcome. And income earned from each farmer, therefore, accumulates to the economic growth in that country.
Nwachinemere Emeka, CEO
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Business Website: https://www.kitovu.com.ng/
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
Kitovu is a pool of young people who are passionate about agriculture and food sustainability. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a high level of post-harvest loss and yields of crops are very low which is a major loss to the Sub-Saharan economy. Kitovu, with its strong belief and mission for Sub-Saharan Africa, aims to minimize these losses by providing a sustainable solution which will be beneficial on both demand and supply sides.