Kenyan Agritech company bags 2nd place in the 2024 AYuTe NextGen Challenge

[Paul Mbugua, Standard]

The world got a taste of the future of agriculture in Africa on Tuesday when the winners of the 2024 AYuTe Africa NextGen were announced on June 11, 2024 in Kigali, Rwanda. Three young agritech entrepreneurs were honoured after triumphing in a youth-focused competition aimed to spur a tech-led revolution in Africa’s agriculture.

Kenya’s Eliud Rugut the founder of Silo Africa an agritech company that serves smallholder farmers with digitized grain silos which mitigate post-harvest losses and safeguarding the farmers from the effects of climate change emerged second place.

First place winner is Thur Biotech, an Ethiopia-based agritech company. Founded by Samson Alemu, the firm produces sustainable bacterial biofertilizers that can replace chemical fertilizers and offers more efficiency for smallholder farmers while preserving soil quality.

The third place winner is Extension Africa, a Nigeria-based agritech company. Founded by Tajuddeen Yahaya, it provides data-driven private extension services using technology to transform rural youth into an agribusiness extension workforce, connecting smallholder farmers at the last mile to global agribusinesses, business advisory and capacity building on sustainable innovative farming methods.

Attended by cabinet members from host country Rwanda, as well as global and regional stakeholders, Heifer International says the epochal event was held to inspire a new generation of young agripreneurs and innovators throughout Africa, driving a forward-looking vision for the next 50 years of agricultural transformation on the continent.

In his keynote address, the Rwanda Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Honourable Eric Rwigamba, noted that the youth are the future. “We cannot reimagine the future of Africa’s agriculture without young people or technology,” he said. “I am inspired by the innovations of all the 15 AYuTe NextGen finalists and I look forward to seeing their impact on the continent. I must also appreciate Heifer International for this important work and congratulate them on their global 80th year anniversary, 50 years of working in Africa and 24 years in Rwanda.”

Also speaking at the event, Adesuwa Ifedi, Heifer International’s Senior Vice President of Africa Programs, said: “The winners today illustrate the ingenuity and determination of Africa’s young innovators that inspire us in the course of our work with them. Through AYuTe Africa NextGen, we are providing the needed funding, capacity, mentorship, and networking opportunities that empower these visionaries to translate their ideas into tangible and sustainable solutions that can impact millions of lives.”

Presenting the awards to the winners, Surita Sandosham, President and CEO of Heifer International, urged them to consider themselves as architects of a transformed agricultural landscape. “At Heifer International, we are energized by the tremendous potential we see in young African innovators,” she said. “Their creativity and dedication to developing cutting-edge solutions that empower smallholder farmers in Africa is exactly what the continent needs to build a more secure and prosperous future. We are honoured to play a role in amplifying and scaling their work and look forward to the transformative impact of their innovative ideas on agriculture.”

The inaugural AYuTe NextGen is part of activities lined up this year by Heifer International as it celebrates 80 years of supporting smallholder farmers globally and 50 years in Africa. The winners unveiled at the event join an elite group of AYuTe Champions who are changing the face of tech-led disruptors improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.

One of them, Hello Tractor, is Heifer’s implementation partner on its Mechanization for Africa initiative. Hello Tractor has achieved global acclaim for its tech-led pay-as-you-go affordable tractor rentals to smallholder farmers across Africa.

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