Nigerian agri-tech startup UfarmX, which leverages blockchain technology to empower rural, unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers, has expanded to Senegal as it aims to reshape perceptions about agriculture, positioning it as an appealing, contemporary, and profitable career option for the younger generation.
At its heart, UfarmX is a “digital bridge, an enabler, and a catalyst within the African agricultural landscape”, said CEO Alexander Zanders.
“When we started, it wasn’t just about farming, it was about revolutionising the way smallholder farmers, who are the backbone of the agricultural industry, access resources and markets. We use cutting-edge blockchain technology to bring these off-grid, often overlooked communities into a larger, more accessible, and transparent market ecosystem,” he said.
The UfarmX platform does various different things, connecting farmers to quality inputs, much of it on credit utilising a transparent blockchain ledger; allowing them access to markets post-harvest; and giving them the data they need to scale their operations.
“Through UfarmX, we’re not just planting seeds in the soil; we’re sowing the seeds of economic empowerment, technological innovation, and sustainable growth for Africa’s most valuable players in agriculture,” said Zanders.
Founded in 2019, UfarmX currently supports over 1,300 farmers, and it has now expanded to Senegal through a strategic partnership with The SEED Project, an NGO founded by Basketball Africa League (BAL) President Amadou Gallo Fall.
By combining cutting-edge technology with on-the-ground training programs, UfarmX and The SEED Project are offering 2,000 students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience and education, while also providing a direct pathway to employment through UfarmX’s platform.
“This initiative is not only addressing immediate employment needs but is also contributing to long-term, sustainable change in the agricultural landscape of Senegal,” said Zanders.
The self-funded UfarmX is now embarking on its first external investment round.
“We’ve achieved a landmark with a US$1.7 million term sheet offer from UBA Bank in Senegal, a notable accomplishment in a region where financial entities often avoid startups, especially in agriculture. Additionally, we’ve secured US$1.56 million in commitments from certain investment funds, details of which are confidential until finalisation,” Zanders said.
Senegal will not be the startup’s last point of expansion. Recently, it extended its digital reach into Liberia, collaborating directly with the Ministry of Agriculture.
“This strategic move involves utilising our app to understand and digitise the unique challenges Liberian farmers face, providing us with invaluable insights and setting the stage for our physical entry into the market,” Zanders said.
For UfarmX, which monetises margin profits on inputs sold to its network of partners, interest accrued on credit, and sharing profits with farmers on produce sold via its platform, the medium-term expansion strategy is quite ambitious.
“We’re aiming to empower at least 12,000 farmers in 10 different markets. This plan reflects our commitment to transforming the agricultural landscape by scaling our innovative solutions to reach more communities, fostering economic growth, and enhancing food security across the continent,” said Zanders.