Afgriland Magazine July/August 2020 Edition

This latest special edition of Afgriland is a must-read for those in the agricultural space and carries lots of interesting news, especially on Axl. Download it free here: https://lnkd.in/dqATY3V

Introducing Axl, the ground-breaking online platform enabling the rental of agricultural machinery in South Africa

Centurion, 20 May 2020 – AFGRI Agri Services, one of the country’s leading agricultural services companies, is again leading the charge in the sector, with the unveiling today of a new disruptive agtech platform, the first of its kind in South Africa, known simply as “Axl”.

This online platform is designed to enable the convenient rental of farm equipment, facilitating the contract between the renter and the owner in a few simple steps, all without either having to set foot outside their own door.

In a nutshell, Axl allows farmers to find, rent, and pay for agricultural equipment through a secure online portal, enabling service providers – equipment owners, retailers, and contractors – to build their business and grow revenue streams and optimising the process of renting out their machines. Axl provides world-class payment solutions that ease the cash-flow challenges for service providers while connecting renters to a quality rated service.

Access to the right machinery at the right time is a critical success factor for farmers. “Whether it is a small, emerging, or large commercial farmer, this is an ongoing challenge for farmers of all sizes. Especially now, as the global pandemic has left global supply chains under immense pressure, uncertainty remains in the minds of our customers and currency volatility has resulted in the increase in equipment costs,” says Niki Neumann, the head of AFGRI’s strategic innovation division, AFGRI Technology Services (“ATS’’), which has developed this product, along with AFGRI Equipment.

“We have decided to open the platform up sooner than originally planned due to the increased need for an alternative solution. As with all new products we expect some teething issues, however, we have already had successful rentals via the platform.”

Axl’s first customer and a member of AFGRI’s Future Farmer Forum, Hardu Prinsloo, shares his experience using the service, “It’s always very fulfilling to be part of something new that can make a difference to agriculture as a whole.”

“When we set about developing the concept, we understood that with farming comes many unforeseen challenges, we wanted to build a community of quality-rated equipment service providers to be there for farmers when they need them the most. Uncertainty and change are something we will never see the back of, it is inherent in our lives now and going forward. We are adapting and excited to embark on this journey with our Axl customers,” says Neumann.

AFGRI Equipment branches will be the first to offer the rental service to their customers. However, the platform is for all South African farmers and equipment owners, including contractors and retailers alike.

UNIGRO customers have the added benefit of using their revolving credit or production facilities to pay for rentals via the Axl service. “Axl is an exciting platform, and UNIGRO is excited to integrate its financial services offering in support of the platform.  If a quality product offering like Axl enabled with convenient access to finance, delights our customers then we have been successful,” according to Ross Simmonds, the Managing Director of UNIGRO.

Axl goes beyond an online service – it breaks down the traditional barriers to accessing mechanisation for all farmers; it is creating a secure and shared environment and encourages us to do more with less. In times like these, this has never been more important.

According to Patrick Roux, the Managing Director of AFGRI Equipment, the platform is an exciting product. “It will further allow equipment owners to fully utilise their equipment throughout the year, and I am optimistic that this platform will change the way we utilise farm equipment in the future.”

He said that by launching Axl during the lockdown, AFGRI Agri Services can support farmers through uncertain times in a way not offered in the sector before now. ‘’In the long-term, the aim is to deliver an innovative digital service that both enables our customers to drive sustainability, profitability, and productivity for their business. We are positively transforming the equipment market for the better, starting now.”

Quite simply, Axl keeps the wheels turning.

For more information, visit https://axl.app

AFGRI Technology Services forms partnership with Aerobotics, world-leading agritech tree crop data analytics company

Centurion, 2 October 2019 – AFGRI Technology Services (ATS), the strategic innovation and growth division of AFGRI Agri Services, has partnered with Aerobotics, the Cape Town based start-up that processes data from drone and satellite imagery through its proprietary artificial intelligence software to bring the latest technology to a broader section of South Africa’s farmers.

 

The partnership aims to provide critical tools to support the growing market of tree crop farmers to ensure they are optimising how they make decisions, manage risk and operate their farming business.

 

“Our customers stand to benefit from Aerobotics’ tools, which are used for general farm management and to discover and analyse problems affecting individual trees, to proactively manage pests and disease outbreaks as well as monitoring tree crop health and optimising their yields,” says AFGRI Agri Services CEO, Jacob de Villiers.

 

According to Niki Neumann, GM for Strategy & Innovation at AFGRI Agri Services, Aerobotics has seen good traction and growth in the tree crop market in South Africa and abroad. “Their focus on a superior product experience and customer service has put them strides ahead of their competitors. We look forward to working with dynamic, disruptive companies like Aerobotics to bring only the best-of-breed solutions to our farmers.”

 

Neumann adds that the Aerobotics tool was introduced to AFGRI Agri Services employees during August, and that some farmers have already been introduced to the company and its capabilities through ATS’ Future Farmers Forum, an initiative aimed exclusively at forward-thinking early adopters in the agricultural sector with the sole goal of connecting South Africa’s farming community with the latest in agricultural technology.

 

“By working with start-ups like Aerobotics, we can encourage a truly tech-enabled sector in South Africa that promotes sustainable, responsible and efficient food production, with a focus on increased productivity and data-driven decision making.”

 

Aerobotics Head of Sales for Africa, Vic van den Berg, is excited about the partnership as an opportunity to bring their farm management software to a larger market. “Our team is consistently working on product updates and features with the key objective being to save our farmers all over the world time and money through our early-stage pest and disease detection software – which gets smarter by the day. This partnership means that we will be able to add value to more farmers with our data-driven software, which ensures that farmers can make smart, data-driven decisions when it comes to their crops’ health and yields.”

 

 

Notes for the editor:

About AFGRI Agri Services

AFGRI Agri Services is a leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises. It provides services across the entire grain production and storage cycle, offering financial support and solutions as well as inputs and hi-tech equipment through the John Deere brand supported by a large retail footprint. Lemang Agricultural Services was established to train, develop and mentor new era farmers with a focused service in the further development of commercial black farmers in South Africa.

 

AFGRI Agri Services is part of the AFGRI Group, the investment holding company with interests in a number of food, agriculture and financial services related companies providing products and services to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security.

 

Visit www.afgri.co.za for more information.

 

About AFGRI Technology Services (ATS)

ATS is the strategic growth and innovation division of AFGRI Agri Services. Catalysing growth through superior strategy, insights, technology and innovation across the agricultural value chain, with the vision to introduce solutions that solve agriculture’s biggest challenges and enable food security.

 

Visit www.afgritechnologyservices.com for more information.

 

About Aerobotics

Based in Cape Town, Aerobotics was co-founded by James Paterson (CEO) and Benji Meltzer (CTO) and combines aerial imagery obtained from satellites and drones with its machine learning algorithms to provide early problem detection services to farmers, helping them to monitor their crops, receive early warning of potential risks, and optimise yields.

 

Aerobotics provides farmers with accurate statistics on their trees and vines and allows them to use its management zones to plan planting. It now operates across hundreds of farms in 11 countries throughout the world, has commanded 40% and 20% of South Africa’s macadamia nut and citrus markets respectively, has won numerous awards including Best Technology Company of 2019 at Africa Tech Week, and has raised two funding rounds totalling US$2.6million.

 

Visit www.aerobotics.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

Issued for:                                                 AFGRI Technology Services

Contact:                                                    Niki Neumann

GM: Innovation & Strategy at AFGRI Agri Services

Tel:                                                                011-063-2661

Email:                                                          [email protected]

 

Contact:                                                    Aerobotics (Pty) Ltd

Tel:                                                                021-035-1060

Email:                                                          [email protected]

 

Distributed by:                                      Keyter Rech Investor Solutions

Contact:                                                    Deborah Chapman

Tel:                                                                087-351-3816 or 076-650-4150

Email:                                                          [email protected]

Refinitiv partners with AFGRI Technology Services to use AI and alternative data sets to enable small farmers to gain access to banking services across Africa

New York/Johannesburg: Refinitiv and AFGRI Technology Services (ATS) today announce the Bankable Farmer Research Initiative (BFRI). BFRI will be dedicated to the use of data science, alternative data sets and novel approaches to risk modeling in order to increase access to financial services for small commercial farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. Access to credit for small farmers continues to be a challenge due to lack of credit history and profile. BFRI proposes a highly innovative approach to establishing creditworthiness and is expected to be a significant enabler for growth and prosperity in the region. It is anticipated the BFRI will partner with public and private entities to expand the impact of this initiative.

Over 80% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is engaged in agriculture. Smallholders, micro-commercial farms and the business ecosystem around these farms constitute the vast majority of economic activity on the African continent. The number of small commercial farmers in Africa is estimated at over 30 million, most of which are underbanked, and as a result find it difficult to pay for seed, fertilizer and other inputs. The World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) estimates the market opportunity for credit services to small farmers across Africa and South Asia to be $450bn.

Luke Manning, Global Head of Sustainability at Refinitiv said: “Two of our key sustainability pledges are to support the communities we operate in and put sustainability at the heart of our product offering, and our bankable farmer innovation delivers on both of those. We’re committed to using Refinitiv data and expertise wherever possible to support the UN’s sustainable development goals, and ultimately solve some of the world’s largest environmental and social challenges. As the solution emerges, Refinitiv looks forward to working with its and AFGRI Agri Services banking customers to ensure the financial ecosystem develops across all demographics in Africa.”

“AFGRI Agri Services is proud to support this research initiative through our ATS division. We already have a strong focus on developing small and emerging farmers locally through our Lemang business and we want to see the number of successful farmers grow. Through innovation and new methodologies, we can improve how we collectively do this”, said Jacob de Villiers, CEO AFGRI Agri Services.

The Research & Development team will be based at AFGRI Agri Services in Centurion, Pretoria (South Africa) and will be supported by Refinitiv’s global team of data scientists. “We are very excited about what we can achieve with this partnership. Not only are we striving to solve a critical business challenge faced by financial institutions, we are striving to solve a critical development need on the continent. It’s not an easy challenge to solve, successful farming comes with many variables and risks. A critical pillar to a farmer’s success is accessing the right funding at the right time,” added Niki Neumann, GM Innovation & Strategy (Head of ATS), AFGRI Agri Services.

Partnership and co-creation remain core tenets of the initiative going forward, and the team is keen to engage with additional partners.

“The world’s most intractable problems require deep collaboration and an approach to partnership grounded in shared values and shared vision to find viable, sustainable solutions.   I’m thrilled to continue this journey with AFGRI Agri Services and ATS .” said Saidah Nash Carter, previously head of Refinitiv’s Innovation Lab in Cape Town and now strategic advisor to the new initiative.

I’m excited about what the combined strengths of the two companies’ cross-functional teams has produced – solving for real problems. The continued collaboration through Saidah Nash Carter and Niki Neumann will help to ensure that the BFRI scales for greater impact across Africa,” added Tim Baker, Head of Refinitiv Labs.

About AFGRI Agri Services

AFGRI Agri Services is a leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises. It provides services across the entire grain production and storage cycle, offering financial support and solutions as well as inputs and hi-tech equipment through the John Deere brand supported by a large retail footprint. Lemang Agricultural Services was established to train, develop and mentor new era farmers with a focused service in the further development of commercial black farmers in South Africa. AFGRI Agri Services is part of AFGRI Group Holdings, the investment holding company with interests in a number of food, agriculture and financial services related companies providing products and services to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security. Visit www.afgri.co.za for more information.

About AFGRI Technology Services (ATS)

ATS is the strategic growth and innovation division of AFGRI Agri Services. Catalysing growth through superior strategy, insights, technology and innovation across the agricultural value chain, with the vision to introduce solutions that solve agriculture’s biggest challenges and enable food security. www.afgritechnologyservices.com

 

About Refinitiv

Refinitiv is one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure. Serving more than 40,000 institutions in over 190 countries, we provide information, insights, and technology that drive innovation and performance in global markets. Our 160-year Reuters heritage of integrity enables customers to make critical decisions with confidence, while our unique open platform, best-in-class data, and cutting-edge technology bring greater opportunity to our customers. By advancing our customers, we drive progress for the entire financial community. For more information, go to www.refinitiv.com

 

About Bright Insights Global

Bright insights global is a boutique women-owned consultancy dedicated to partnering with purpose driven, tech-forward companies with a desire to define and optimize financial performance through the prism of innovation, inclusion and impact.

Media Contacts

Lemuel Brewster
Communications

Refinitiv

Tel: +1 917-805-1089

Email: [email protected]

 

Sonwabise Sebata

Communications

Refinitiv

Tel: +27 11 775 3000

Email: [email protected]

 

Saidah Nash Carter

Principal

Bright Insights Global

Tel: +27 63 684 5007

Email: [email protected]

 

AFGRI Technology Services

Email: [email protected]

Deborah Chapman

ATS PR and Communications Representative

Keyter Rech Investor Solutions

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +27 11 063 2347

AFGRI Technology Services partners with TuksNovation to drive agricultural innovation in SA

Centurion, 13 February 2019 – AFGRI Technology Services (“ATS”), which focuses on the development and implementation of agricultural technology (“AgTech”) solutions, will be partnering with the University of Pretoria’s (“UP”) TuksNovation to foster innovation in the agricultural sector.

TuksNovation, a non-profit company founded by UP in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Small Business, is a technology business incubator and accelerator providing specialised product and business development support to tech start-ups.

ATS has partnered with TuksNovation for its annual Activate Competition, which searches for cutting-edge and innovative technologies and start-ups that can be grown into successful businesses.

“The objective of the competition is to identify potentially profitable technologies and disruptive start-ups for Virtual Incubation and Acceleration, with the intention of building AFGRI’s innovation capacity and to foster support for and growth of South Africa’s entrepreneurs,” says ATS MD, Niki Neumann.

The competition is open primarily to UP and Gordon Institute of Business Science (“GIBS”) students, as well as academic staff and alumni. “ATS will be actively participating in the competition by helping to validate entry concepts and providing a degree of mentoring to relevant start-ups in the Fintech, FoodTech and AgTech spaces.”

Neumann says that the ATS team is very excited at the opportunity to get involved with TuksNovation, which not only offers the company access to a pipeline of top technology start-ups to partner with, but also allows ATS to take another step forward in supporting the entrepreneurial and SME innovation community in South Africa.

She adds that the partnership fully supports ATS’ desire to advance the development and implementation of agricultural technology solutions that will help drive the future of agriculture and enable food security.

“By supporting TuksNovation, we further our vision of bringing together the greatest minds, technology and products to be the catalyst of innovation and technology-enabled solutions to drive sustainable agricultural growth across the African and global agricultural value chains.”

The competition is open for entries from 11 February to 22 March 2019. For more information please visit, www.tuksnovation.co.za/activate.

LISTEN: SAFM interview with Niki Neumann, MD of AFGRI Technology Services, on the vital role of AgriTech in SA and Africa

Listen to the Classic FM interview with ATS’ MD Niki Neumann, who talks to Classic Business’s Michael Avery about AgTech in South Africa and how technology is changing the agricultural sector for the good.

African Innovation Paradigm

AFGRI Technology Services’ MD, Niki Neumann, is one of the contributors to the first in a series of white papers being produced by Thomson Reuters Labs Cape Town/Matter Innovation/HYBR. The first report of the series focuses on the overall challenges of the African innovation ecosystem and includes a set of recommendations to provide a practical guide of success stories, persistent challenges, and most importantly, lessons learned.   The report, entitled “Fixing the African Innovation ecosystem for the many, not the few”, investigates the effectiveness of existing approaches to support the innovation ecosystem and provides recommendations on how to address specific challenges. It offers an important contribution to the crucial debate about how African corporates, start-ups and ecosystem actors can collaborate more effectively in future for mutual gain and broader societal impact.

View the whitepaper here.

AFGRI Technology Services to showcase AgTech expertise at SA’s leading technology summit in September

29 August 2018, Centurion – AFGRI Technology Services (ATS), part of AFGRI Group Holdings (AGH), is partnering with The SA Innovation Summit, taking place in Cape Town from 12-14 September, where the pioneering agricultural technology company will be participating in sessions focused on how technology can, and is, enabling the agricultural sector across South Africa and the rest of the continent.

ATS’s own MD, Niki Neumann, will be contributing to the Summit – as a panellist in the “Fintech for Farming: The Future of Financial Services for the Sector (Bankable Farmer)” session taking place on 12 September, and as the moderator for the panel, “AGRITECH: Investing for Growth in Food and Agri Tech” taking place on 13 September, which will look at venture capital, corporate venturing and investment support of the sector.

Joining her at the event will be Pieter Wasserfall, MD of the Six33 Group and Founder of PICSA, an affiliate start-up within the AGH investment portfolio that provides employee benefit solutions that holistically address the financial challenges faced by farmworkers in South Africa. They will be joined by a host of other guest speakers and panellists from a broad spectrum of technology-driven companies and organisations, start-ups, and academic institutions being represented at the Summit.

“We believe that enabling a platform for South African entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to connect with the broader AgTech ecosystem will have a positive impact on South Africa. Building the ecosystem will not only benefit our customers and our business, but the industry too. If you enable farming, you enable Africa,” says Neumann.

Neumann and Wasserfall both bring high levels of expertise in the field of AgTech to bear on the debates.

The Summit – an industry-leading annual platform for nurturing, developing and showcasing African innovation, as well as facilitating innovation thought leadership – provides the perfect springboard to start conversations about the power of AgTech, believes Neumann.

“Platforms like these provide a way for us to inspire thinking and provide leadership in this sphere to a range of participants, whether they’re entrepreneurial start-ups or corporates considering how to grow and accelerate innovation within their own companies.”

She adds that AgTech can drastically change the sector as we know it. “We want to build a connected, globally competitive, efficient, inclusive agriculture sector through introducing technology and

innovative solutions. AgTech goes beyond on-farm technology, robotics, IOT and sensing – it’s about looking at the sector holistically and bringing together pieces of the puzzle to solve the challenges of financial inclusion, water scarcity, connectivity, food security, increased population growth, the increasing demand for farmers to increase productivity and outputs to meet ever-growing consumption patterns, climate change, enabling smaller farmers access to markets and developing surrounding conditions to enable farmers, for example infrastructure.

This is the first year that ATS will be joining organisations such as the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), The Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge, the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences, and Adams and Adams, amongst others, with the City of Cape Town, to support this much-needed platform for innovators, not only in South Africa, but across the continent.

For more information on the Summit, including the full programme, visit www.innovationsummit.co.za.

AFGRI Technology Services partners with SA’s leading technology summit to accelerate innovation in Africa

21 June 2018, Centurion – AFGRI Technology Services (“ATS”), part of AFGRI Group Holdings, is proud to partner with The SA Innovation Summit, an industry-leading annual platform for nurturing, developing and showcasing African innovation, as well as facilitating innovation thought leadership. The Summit will be taking place in Cape Town from 12-14 September.

This is the first year that ATS will be joining organisations such as the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), The Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge, the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences, and Adams and Adams, amongst others, with the City of Cape Town, to support this much-needed platform for innovators, not only in South Africa, but across the continent.

ATS has committed to pioneer the conversation and sponsor the AgTech vertical at the Summit, which will bring together corporates, thought leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, academia and policy makers to strengthen South Africa’s competitive edge and to inspire sustained economic growth across Africa.

Niki Neumann, the MD of ATS, believes platforms such as these provide a vital springboard for leadership in this space, whether to inspire entrepreneurial start-ups or grow and accelerate organisational innovation culture.

“It is precisely because ATS was born of the desire to advance the development and implementation of AgTech solutions – solutions we believe will help ensure both the future of agriculture and enable food security, not just for Africa, but for the whole world too – that our support of events such as this is vital.

“We believe that enabling a platform for South African entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to connect with the broader AgTech ecosystem will have a positive impact on South Africa. Building the ecosystem will not only benefit our customers and our business, but the industry too. If you enable farming, you enable Africa.”

Neumann adds that AgTech can drastically change the sector as we know it. “We want to build a connected, globally competitive, efficient, inclusive agriculture sector through introducing technology and innovative solutions. AgTech goes beyond on-farm technology, robotics, IOT and sensing – it’s about looking at the sector holistically and bringing together pieces of the puzzle to solve the challenges of financial inclusion, water scarcity, connectivity, food security, increased population growth, the increasing demand for farmers to increase productivity and outputs to meet ever-growing consumption patterns, climate change, enabling smaller farmers access to markets and developing surrounding conditions to enable farmers, for example infrastructure.

“For this reason, we need to think broader, we need to rethink the ordinary. The word is moving faster than we could’ve imagined, there has been no better time to talk about the future of food, agriculture and technology as a single topic – AgTech. At the Summit, we have the unique opportunity to fast-track the conversation.”

Fintech defines new trends in financial services offerings for farmers

By 2020, consumers may not turn to banks to get the financial services they need. We are already seeing other companies invading the space traditionally reserved for financial institutions. The reason? “Fintech” – financial technology – which is innovative new technology and software aiming to compete with traditional methods in the delivery of financial services to the consumer.

 

For those who might not know what Fintech is, it’s simply the use of software solutions for financial transactions – global examples include Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Wonga and a myriad of other solutions that are offered online or via mobile phones. Some examples include M-Pesa, SnapScan and Nomanini, to name but a few. To indicate the scale of Fintech, back in 2014 already, investment in the US had tripled to $9,89 billion, with Europe investing $1,5 billion.

 

The disruption caused by Fintech has changed the banking world as we know it.  The Financial services industry has been in existence since the 14th century and has always stood the test of time. However, recently it has had to adapt to keep up with the technology evolution. This Goliath has no doubt been shaken up by modern technology’s David – the Fintech revolution.

 

For traditional financial institutions, the risk of disruption is real, as Fintech companies use the internet, mobile phones, cloud computing and open-source software to make banking and investing more efficient. These Fintech start-ups offer existing financial services at lower costs and offer new tech-driven solutions, not previously available and driven by traditional banks.  Financial institutions – both legacy and start-ups – are also driving technology-focused solutions such as peer-to-peer payments, crowdfunding, mobile payments and transfers, and on-demand insurance.  Examples here include Avant, Lending Club, Qufenqi, Affirm and SocietyOne.

 

What does Fintech mean for agriculture?

 

In South Africa, Post-demonetisation, digitisation of milk procurement is getting a massive boost in organized segment which represents 20% of India’s dairy industry. Cooperatives and private companies are looking for digital solutions for direct credit to cattle owners’ accounts to ensure uninterrupted supply of milk despite currency shortage. Post-demonetisation, digitisation of milk procurement is getting a massive boost in organized segment which represents 20% of India’s dairy industry. Cooperatives and private companies are looking for digital solutions for direct credit to cattle owners’ accounts to ensure uninterrupted supply of milk despite currency shortage. Post-demonetisation, digitisation of milk procurement is getting a massive boost in organized segment which represents 20% of India’s dairy industry. Cooperatives and private companies are looking for digital solutions for direct credit to cattle owners’ accounts to ensure uninterrupted supply of milk despite currency shortage.PICSA is a ground-breaking organisation whose primary aim is to responsibly protect and assist the low-end, economically active population through the provision of credit solutions.  At the core of their offering is the savings platform, offering members real returns by saving as little as R25 a month. Their comprehensive products scale to cater to every stage of the saving journey, thereby contributing to the financial well-being of employees in the agricultural sector.

 

With the pace of technology developing so quickly, it is difficult to say what the next 10 years will look like.  For agricultural financial services and its customers, it may mean the possibility of loans backed by cryptocurrency –  currencies such as Bitcoin which only exist online – by 2025. What is important though is that AFGRI as a company, the agricultural sector as an industry, and South Africa as country do not get left behind.

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2017/02/10/a-complete-beginners-guide-to-fintech-in-2017/#367c7d873340

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-is-fintech_us_58a20d80e4b0cd37efcfebaa

http://www.business2community.com/finance/5-fintech-firms-reshaping-lending-financing-01701485#bUsBMMz8YWzzADyH.97