Venture capital firm AgVentures has struck its second deal in as many years by investing in a South African agriculture-technology startup.
The has put an undisclosed amount of money in Skudu, an online marketplace for agricultural inputs and produce in Africa. Skudu’s platform aims to shorten the agricultural value chain and connect buyers and sellers directly, AgVentures said in a statement.
Led by Cobus van der Merwe, Skudu has three verticals. Skudu Market aims to make it easy for farmers to find the same or similar agricultural inputs from different manufacturers, whereafter it enables them to request a quote from the suppliers that service their farm location. Farmers are notified when the quotes have been returned and are summarised on a single page from where the preferred quote can be accepted. At present, the platform only supports fertilisers and ameliorants, but the expansion to other inputs is planned for the near future.
The other unit is Skudu Match, which connects the buyers and sellers of agricultural produce on the platform and enables them to agree to and capture the terms of the transaction through a blockchain e-contract.
The third vertical is Skudu Exact, which gives farmers, or their advisors, control over their farm data and allows for greater accuracy in input planning. At present, it allows for the planning of soil sample collection and enables users to manage their sample data once received from the analytical labs.
The data can be processed through the proprietary algorithm, which automatically generates a plant nutrition plan based on the sample results and crop attributes. Quotes can then be requested to buy fertilisers or ameliorants according to the nutrition plan. The company has planned functionalities such as generation of prescription maps and recommendations derived from satellite imagery.
Skudu is AgVentures’ second investment after it backed FruitSpec in 2019. FruitSpec, based in Israel, is disrupting outdated paper-based fruit yield estimations by replacing it with a patented computer-vision based system. It seeks to provide accurate early-season yield estimates, but can also give a distribution of fruit yields and colours. This product has operations in North America, South America, Europe, China and Africa.
AgVentures is supported by its anchor investor, Acorn Agri & Food, a South African agri-food business.