Ivory Coast-based startup WeFly Agri is using drones and mobile technology to allow absentee landlords to monitor their farms and plantations remotely.
Launched in January, WeFly Agri uses drones to map and monitor land, and offers users access to proprietary software that monitors all the activities on the plantation.
The startup, which launched in January, aims its product at absentee landlords, who live far away from their land and find it difficult to keep track of what is going on.
“Imagine you have hundreds of hectares where it is impossible to visit it in a single day,” said Joseph-Olivier Biley, chief executive officer (CEO) of WeFly Agri. “Or to blindly trust the plantation’s supervisor reports, which, to be honest, it is not always a good idea.”
WeFly Agri offers farmers a third option, a solution that will enable them to monitor their plantations from their mobile device.
“The main and most important gap we spotted was the information one. Farmers and plantation owners have almost no information about what is going on in their plantations, since most of them live in the cities,” Biley said.
The startup had a turbulent start to life, having to refine its algorithms and suffering a series of server outages. Yet initial uptake has been good. WeFly Agri has signed a deal with Tropical Rubber Cote d’Ivoire, the third biggest rubber company in the country, as well as plantations management company Gabea. It is also in advanced discussions in order to map and monitor 250,000 hectares for another client.
“The main difficulty we encountered was scepticism. People considered us dreamers, and our idea too advanced to materialise in Ivory Coast. However, thanks to the quality of our product, and the added value our clients perceived, it was quite easy to land our first contract,” said Biley.
The self-funded startup is focused for now on expanding in Ivory Coast, but is also in advanced discussions with potential clients and strategic partners in Togo, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. It makes money by charging for the initial mapping and subscriptions to the mobile platform.