5 African Internet start-ups redefining agriculture

It's Sustainable Gastronomy Day, a day that reaffirms that all cultures and civilisations are contributors and crucial enablers of sustainable development.
Women tending to farm-fields in Kenya
Women tending to farm-fields in Kenya

Agriculture is still the main economic engine of Africa. Innovation in farming methods and aids can help ensure the continent has better food security and higher income for its people. For a long time, Africa has been seen as a continent in dire need of humanitarian aid, but pioneering, home-grown start-ups are set to change this perception as they give the continent’s chief employer, agriculture, a boost. 

As the United Nations celebrates Sustainable Gastronomy Day on 18 June, 2018, We look at five start-ups paving the way for agriculture success in Africa. The day reaffirms that all cultures and civilisations are contributors and crucial enablers of sustainable development.

Hello tractor

Nicknamed as the “uber for tractors”, Hello Tractors are helping Nigerian farmers to increase their output. The concept is pretty simple: an entrepreneur buys a tractor that can be rented – via an sms request – by a farmer. Using a tractor is far faster and cheaper than ploughing the land by hand, enabling the farmer increase their yield. Since launching in 2014, Hallo tractor has seen encouraging results, with farmers reporting up to 200 per cent better yields. This results in better income and food-security.


“Your cows end up healthier, bigger and stronger,” says a small-scale Kenyan farmer and user of iCow. Created by farmer Su Kahumbu, iCow is an application that works on even basic mobile phones. Farmers register each cow on the service, which then sends SMS reminders to the farmer about milking schedules, immunisation dates and tips about nutrition and breeding or information about local vets or artificial insemination providers. 


This Zimbabwean-based Internet start-up is aiming to increase profits for livestock farmers in Zimbabwe. As a graduate and winner of Ampion Venture Bus, a start-up mentoring programme, this application provides a platform for livestock farmers to sell their livestock for the best prices on the market. The platform works by a farmer sending a message to upload details of the livestock he/she is selling. Bidders then bid for the livestock and the winning bid receives the livestock through a shipment. 

Tigo Kilimo

Based in Tanzania, Tigo Kilimo provides farmers with necessary information to increase crop output in the country. Communicating mainly through sms, this start-up sends weather forecasts, agronomy best practices and market prices to thousands of farmers each day. Special programme manager, Yaya N’djore, says that the project helps to sweep away the “middle people” that tends to con farmers, especially on prices.


Developed in Kenya, this social enterprise has developed a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for small-scale farmers in rural communities. The platform allows for farmers to ask questions via SMS and receive answers from other registered users. Available in both English and Swahili, the platform has already hit 22 000 users with over 50 000 questions asked on the platform thus far.

Read more about innovative, sustainable ways to protect food security: 

Gourmet Grubb on why they're incorporating insects into normal food like ice cream

Icelandic designers tackle food waste through a project called Cargo

Revolutionising food production with edible fungi made from plastic