How SA agri-tech startup IQ Logistica is helping farmers scale more efficiently

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South African agri-tech startup IQ Logistica, initially launched as a service provider to government, is establishing itself as a platform that helps farmers scale their businesses more efficiently having recently pivoted.

Formed in 2014 as a technology services provider to government for digital management of the cotton supply chain, IQ Logistica was purchased in 2020 by Zebu Investment Partners, and immediately pivoted to to focus specifically on being a platform for the farming community as opposed to being a service provider for government. 

With that in mind, the startup recently announced the launch of Farmers Friend, a new companion farming operations mobile application. The tool is for farmers to use in-field to manage their full farming operations straight from their phones or tablets, and offers a new way for farmers to easily view, manage and access all of their operational data to mitigate risks, successfully implement lucrative stakeholder relationships and optimize their yield opportunities. 

“Farmers Friend allows farmers to easily access all of the critical data they need in order to make the best-informed decision, in the here and now,” said David Jeromin, director of business development at IQ Logistica. 

“By creating a digital footprint, farmers using Farmers Friend have the ability to see every aspect of their farm and its needs offline or online. The team at IQ Logistica are excited that South African farmers are able to use the app to optimise their production while seamlessly accumulating the information necessary to obtain insurance, finance and sustainability certification.”

Farmers Friend is available now on Android and iOs, for free. Jeromin said the team had recognised two gaps in the market.

“First is the lack of trustworthy data for farmers to manage their farming season; meaning there weren’t any traceable mechanisms in place – aside from paper notes or at best Excel spreadsheets – to track when you planted your crop, what cultivar seed you used, what the soil moisture was when you planted, and what your results were. Our application measures all of these activities and more, while also safely storing the information, making it easy to access, extract and use,” he said.

“Second, we noticed the amount of friction in the agriculture ecosystem – meaning the amount of difficulty to obtain critical services such as insurance, finance and key inputs such as seed, fertiliser, and other agriculture products. This problem is faced by commercial, as well as small, farmers with the latter facing more difficulty if not being serviced at all. This market segment – small farmers across Africa – is made up of 500 million farmers, completely untapped; yet is looked towards in order to increase production to feed an ever-growing global population.”

Zebu Investment Partners funded IQ Logistica’s Series A round in 2020, and continues to support the startup’s developmental needs and dynamic approach to local and global business demands.

“Uptake has been fantastic since our commercial release in January of 2022. We are proud to have assisted over 4,000 farmers to date and continue to grow our commercial and small farmer base,” Jeromin said.

“We are currently operating in the South African agriculture and tech markets with a specific focus on row crops like sunflower, cotton, maize, wheat, and soya, and have recently added sugar to our success stable. We are in the process of developing and expanding into livestock, as well as various tree crops by year end and will further expand into SADC countries.” 

The startup makes money from farmer subscriptions as well as subscriptions to farming organisations such as cooperatives and small farmer programmes who require monitoring and oversight. 

“In addition, we act as an intermediary for insurance and key product segments and earn fees associated with those products delivered. Last, our finance desk generates revenue from administration and fees associated with financing activities. Revenue trajectory, like with any given early stage company is stratospheric with year-over-year growth projected at over 100X,” said Jeromin.

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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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