This Nigerian startup uses Chinese drones to help African farmers

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Nigerian startup Beat Drone is using drones imported from China to execute spraying on farms, engage in crop supervision, and map farmland to improve agricultural yields.

The Beat Drone platform allows a farmer to request a drone and schedule a date, and make payment, before drones are deployed for things like crop counting and mapping.

All of its services, president Odionye Confidence told Disrupt Africa, will help farmers grow their businesses.

“It enables the farmer to achieve optimum results, increased harvest yields and lower cost of operations, thus reducing the cost of food in the open market, eliminating hunger and poverty,” he said.

The Beat Drone team came together in 2016, with Confidence joined by co-founder and Yinka Ojomo. With the help of angel funding and a board of directors that includes Paga brand manager Daniel Oparison and Passion Incubator founder Olufunbi Falayi, the startup has had a positive start to life in Nigeria.

“We’ve had increased demand and our product has had immense advantage to the farmers. We have increased their harvest yield by 20 per cent from their previous harvest output,” said Confidence. “We currently have over 30,000 hectares under our operation.”

Beat Drone also recently signed a deal with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria to access 1.5 million hectares of rice farming lands within the next 12 months. Confidence says the startup is solving a serious problem, with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimating that over 50 per cent of planted crops in developing markets die due to inadequate crop supervision and inefficient application of chemicals to kill weeds, kill pests and nutrients.

“This means they don’t meet the local food demand, thus making food expensive due to dependence on imported foods,” he said.

Such is the scale of the problem that Beat Drone, which charges clients for every operation per hectare, has ambitious expansion problems, and plans to be in 30 African countries within the next five years.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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