How Ghana’s DigiExt helps farm cooperatives develop and grow
Ghanaian agri-tech startup DigiExt is helping farm cooperatives grow via a variety of tech-based platforms and then assisting them in selling their produce to processing companies and export agencies.
Launched in 2017, DigiExt helps farmers sell their produce, access credit, and provides low-cost and convenient ICT-enabled agricultural extension services.
The startup gathers data by satellites and drones, weather information and soil sensors to disseminate relevant production information to smallholder farmers at the right time in a cost-effective manner.
“Our innovation is user-friendly, with local linguistics technology and creative direction with local procedures, which eliminates a smallholder farmer’s barriers in using advanced technology, and keeps local procedures on the front-end, through interactive local voice-enabled interface,” said Isaac Osei, co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of DigiExt.
“We also have a digital marketplace for quality agricultural produce, consultants and advanced match-making algorithms to pair farmers with export and food processing companies.”
DigiExt services several farm cooperatives and organisations that support farmers, such as AFAP and the Peasant Farmers Association, helping their farmers with their day-to-day activities as well as getting their produce to market.
“Processing companies and export agencies register and provide lists of crops required. Farm cooperatives then leverage our farm management and digital tools to provide stable feedstock for these companies,” said Osei.
“Banks, knowing we control the offtaking process and have digital tools to ensure productivity, are willing to offer credit in the form of productivity services and goods by paying service providers who have been vetted. With the robust management and surveillance technology, insurance companies can count on us to prevent most of the losses that farmers are vulnerable to and wish to be insured against such as weather,pests and diseases.”
A full ecosystem of sorts, then, and DigiExt has received some strong support to help it grow. It raised a round of funding last year, and already has operations in both West and East Africa. Osei said it plans to expand into North and Southern Africa in time.
“Through our B2B model we manage over 200,000 farmers covering a land area of over two million acres. Our marketplace is rich due to the ecosystem we build, so farm groups pay for access. We also make money in terms of origination and interest fees in these credit facilities given in the form of productivity services and goods. Also, banks and insurance companies that depend on our digital tools for risk mitigation pay us,” he said.