Despite 60% of African population living in rural areas and practicing agriculture, African countries spend over $35 billion in agricultural imports. To reduce the situation, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has decided to invest $24 billion for the next 10 years to boost farming in the continent.
Aerobotics, a modern startup that employs drones and uses artificial intelligence wants to help farmers. James Paterson who grew up on a fruit farm near Cape Town founded the startup. James also graduated with masters in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. Driven by the passion of farming, the young Peterson began looking for a way to benefit farmers in his native country, South Africa.
In 2014, he began to build drones in his garage as he partnered with Benji Meltzer who later became a co-founder of Aerobotics. At the back of their minds, they wanted to come up with a technique that would reduce farming cost while increase the yield.
Currently, Aerobotics assures farmers of an increase in yield by at least 10%. Aerobotics achieve this by using computers which interpret images taken by the company’s satellites, phones, and drones. Moreover, the founders then utilize technology to forecast essential crop data. The obtained results are then made available in the company’s app called Aeroview. The app analyzes data and in case of any poor performance farmers receive notification. The app tells farmers if the crops receive insufficient water and it detects the presence of pests and diseases.
Presently, Aerobotics operates in 11 countries and has over 200 clients. Some of the countries that have adopted the technology include Russia, the US, and the UK. However, South Africa has the widest client base since 85% of the clients come from the country. The founders have plans of expanding their services to other parts of the globe.
Recently, the team came from the company’s Launchpad Accelerator program and they work to improve their services. The founders want to ensure farmers receive bigger harvests through technological improvement in their operations.