Transforming Nigeria’s agri-foodtech ecosystem landscape has been an ambitious agenda considering the fact that the agri- and foodtech entrepreneurs in the past have had to face the challenge of lack of support, minimum mentoring opportunities and little or no investments compared to their fintech, edtech, healthtech and civictech counterparts. In 2016, 72% of respondents to a survey conducted by The GreenRise Hub reflected a part of these challenges. This discovery was one of the drives that further strengthened our resolve to take the lead in Nigeria’s agri- and foodtech ecosystem landscape, leading to our partnership with Future Agro Challenge.
Source: The GreenRise Hub Nigeria (2017).
Since 2019, we have been working with local agri- and foodtech entrepreneurs providing them a platform to build sustainable businesses through the machinery of the Future Agro Challenge in Nigeria. This allows us to choose one entrepreneur as the Nigerian Agripreneur of the Year to represent our country. This year’s winner is one reason why we love working with entrepreneurs in this space.
Soilless Farm Lab is Nigeria’s agri- and foodtech startup transforming the way we grow food in the country by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to indoor, vertical, urban and hydroponic farming systems. The team at Soilless Farm Lab strongly believes that “food production should not be seasonal because hunger is not seasonal” and this is what drives the work that the startup is doing to ensure food security across Nigeria on a daily basis. Through the work of Soilless Farm Lab, there is a guarantee of fresh food produce all year round, with supplies of healthy and nutritious food to different parts of the country.
As a business, its goal is to maximize production without harming the environment, while eliminating post-harvest loss. Soilless Farm Lab is also a technology enabler for agriculture, we develop tools, deploy them, and also train others. In the past year, the startup has continued to experience growth across all aspects. Some of these achievements include:
- An investment of N18m since starting
- Making an annual turnover of N46m (in 2020)
- As a business focus, tackling seasonality of food production in a way that is healthy for the farmer, the consumer, and the environment
- Soilless Farm Lab trained close to 1000 individuals physically in 2020 on soilless farming techniques
- Soilless Farm Lab has collaborated with DAI, Edo state government in Nigeria, Mercy Corps, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ECOfarms, Citi veggies, We for Good Organization, Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited, African Development Project, Raise a Farmer Initiative (RAFI), and many others
- Soilless Farm Lab currently has 4 male and 10 female employees
These are a few reasons why we at Future Agro Challenge are proud of Soilless Farm Lab as the Agripreneur of the Year for 2020. With this kind of work the startup is doing in the space, there is hope for a future where food security is assured and people are able to access both healthy and nutritious food.