Yammama: Improving farm productivity using simple technologies
One of the key challenges facing the agriculture sector in Nigeria and Africa is poor productivity due to lack of data and information as well as poor access to market and credit.
African farmers generally struggle with issues that are already taken for granted in the West.
For instance, many of the continent’s farmers do not know the cheapest means of moving their products from farm to the market. A lot do not have access to credit because they lack appropriate information and guidance. More so, many of them suffer terrible pre-or post-harvest losses owing to lack of managerial guide and data.
Nasir Yammama founded Verdant AgriTech in 2014 to solve these major problems. Yammama’s family members are farmers, and he often joined them when he was small. The under-30 entrepreneur attended the Institute and Creative Technology at Middlesex University, London, where his knack for using technology to solve human problems grew.
He subsequently participated in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp where he became a full-fledged entrepreneur desirous of solving major social problems. In fact, it is said that his involvement in technology dates back to his childhood days when he performed difficult things and won technology awards.
Verdant AgriTech aims to boost agricultural sustainability in Africa by using simple modern technologies to increase productivity, raise efficiency of resource use, and reduce ecological impacts.
The firm provides important data for agricultural decision making, and also offers information to rural farmers on extension services.
Yammama provides cooperatives, governments, financial institutions and farm input companies his firm’s data solutions, enabling them to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
So far, the firm has reached over 10,000 farmers, signed up more than 20 stakeholders and works with some international agencies.
With a phone, farmers can register and interact on the platform, obtaining crucial data and linking to key stakeholders as well as services. They can also request a demo.
His firm records information about global sustainability standards, weather forecasts, market prices, and agronomics tips.
It likewise offers its data to the government to make vital decisions on food productivity, fertilizer distribution or availability and disease control.
“We offer solutions to support farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain for improved food production using novel technologies,” the firm wrote on its website.
The young entrepreneur has won a number of awards. He has been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30— a list of 30 entrepreneurs in Nigeria or Africa that do extraordinary things or solves major continental problems. He won this award in 2017.
He became Queen’s Young Leader in 2017. He had won the Enterprise Challenge organised by the British Council in 2014.
He refers himself as a creative technologist, entrepreneur, and nomad.
He is intrigued by technology, enterprise, renewable energies, and agriculture.
The young entrepreneur met Richard Branson, American billionaire and owner of Virgin Atlantic, at a Shoreditch restaurant known as Beach Blanket Babylon in 2014. Ever since then, his life has never remained the same.
“I was one of the winners of the Enterprise Challenge, an apprentice-style competition backed by Virgin Atlantic and the British Council,” he wrote on his LinkedIn.
“We were ‘young entrepreneurs’ who Richard Branson believed were ‘stars in the making’ — rich in talent and ripe with innovation. We’d have a masterclass with him and the whole place was set for it— from the media personnel to Virgin Atlantic and British Council executives. As you’d imagine, the busy restaurant was shut down for us,” he wrote.
The young entrepreneur said he learnt five things from Branson. One is that entrepreneurs must try new things and should not be afraid of failures.
He also learnt that success is a mixture of hopeless optimism and extreme dedication.
“Richard constantly harps on the necessity of trying out new things and often failing in order to innovate. He has, in the course of the last 45 years, faced numerous failures but has also been brazen in the face of setbacks,” he wrote.
The young entrepreneur quoted Branson as saying, “Making mistakes and experiencing setbacks is part of the DNA of every successful entrepreneur, and I am no exception.”
Branson also taught him that “if you look after your people, your customers and bottom line will be rewarded too.”
Again, the suprepreneur taught the young agripreneur that fun is a responsibility and not a reward.
“Throughout the Virgin group, fun is seen as a responsibility and not a reward. A lot of this, of course, stems from Richard’s adventurous, thrill seeking and mischief making nature. He famously crossed the Atlantic and later the Pacific in a hot air balloon,” Yammama wrote.