Globally, a 3rd of the meals produced is misplaced or wasted, and in Kenya, that figure stands between 20% and 40%. For Kenya, not like the developed world, food loss, not waste, is the better downside, with small-scale farmers, who account for 75% of the overall agricultural output within the nation, going through a myriad of challenges, together with insufficient market linkages and a failure to fulfill the beauty specs for his or her produce.

For a transition, a number of startups are rising seeking to bridge the market hole for farmers. Farm to Feed, an agtech firm based mostly in Kenya, is without doubt one of the quick risers within the house. The startup aggregates farm produce, together with imperfect crop merchandise — like these thought-about too small, too huge or too oddly formed to be needed by distributors — and sells them to companies like eating places and meals processors by means of its gross sales channels, together with a web based market.

Claire Van Enk, Farm to Feed CEO, co-founded the startup with Anouk Boertien and Zara Benosa in 2021, after pivoting from a nonprofit program that supplied meals to individuals who misplaced their earnings in the course of the COVID-19 lockdown. She says, whereas sourcing produce from farmers, it grew to become obvious to her that whereas meals was plentiful, market entry remained a significant hindrance, resulting in the startup’s launch.

“I noticed firsthand what farmers weren’t promoting even when markets returned, and it’s a enormous devastation not solely on meals safety, however on the economic system too,” Van Enk stated, including that meals loss and meals waste have a local weather change side, with rotting foodstuff producing methane, a greenhouse fuel that’s worse than carbon dioxide.

She launched the industrial enterprise to deal with the issue on a bigger scale.

The startup makes use of aggregators to gather produce from small- and large-scale farmers in key farming areas of the East African nation. Farm to Feed groups then kind, grade and dispatch the merchandise to purchasers from its warehouse in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

It makes use of leased vans however is claimed to be buying vans with sustainable cooling options following a grant funding from IFC TechEmerge. Up to now, the startup has raised $1 million in fairness and grant funding from numerous VCs, angel buyers and establishments, together with the Catalyst Fund, Renew Capital, Bayer Basis, Mercy Corps AgriFin, IFC TechEmerge, DEG develoPPP, RAIN Problem, and the GSMA Innovation Fund.

Van Enk stated they’ve a number of gross sales channels, together with its salespersons, the online app and, quickly, a WhatsApp chatbot for purchasers preferring the social commerce route.

Different startups linking farmers to markets embrace Ghanaian agtech Farmerline, which can be giving them entry to high quality enter, and Full Farmer, which finds world markets for his or her produce. They’re part of the innovators tapping alternatives within the sector, a key trade in sub-Saharan Africa that contributes about 23% of the GDP in a area the place 60% of the inhabitants are smallholder farmers. The sector’s significance to Africa’s progress can’t be overstated and has made it a key space of focus for innovators like Farm to Feed.

Knowledge assortment

On high of the e-commerce platform, Van Enk stated they’re constructing a knowledge platform by gathering granular knowledge, together with on local weather and drivers of meals loss, for higher farming outcomes and to create a extra round meals system.

Van Enk stated that from their system, which grades meals, “and utilizing the information platform, we’ll strive to determine a number of the causes behind, for example, the disfiguring of produce. Whether it is due to poor high quality seeds, this may be solved by partnering with entities that present high quality seeds, and if the reason being unhealthy harvesting methods, then we are able to perform focused coaching on one of the best ways to do it.”

The startup is presently operating a value-addition pilot to discover new income streams too.

“If you do extra worth addition, there’s an actual alternative to do margin enlargement. I do assume that meals loss is such a huge effect alternative and in addition an excellent industrial alternative,” she stated. “I actually consider there’s a lot we are able to do with odd-looking produce and actually create worth for the farmer but additionally for the way forward for Farm to Feed.”

Additionally it is seeking to faucet the carbon market and has accomplished a feasibility research within the hope of being pioneers of a brand new methodology by Verra, a nonprofit group that operates requirements in environmental and social markets that quantify emission discount from decreasing meals loss and waste. This can permit the startup to earn from promoting carbon offset credit.