20 May 2021

Food Insecurity: Two Ways of Solving it

Food insecurity has plagued the African continent for years, with Nigeria being one of the hardest hit countries. The good news is that local entrepreneurs are creating innovative solutions to address this challenge.

Annual food inflation in Nigeria reached 22.95% in March 2021 – the highest reading since October 2005 – according to a recent report by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics. The cost of food for the average Nigerian is the highest it has been in a long time, making it unaffordable for many, and the economic effects of the pandemic have only exacerbated the situation.

Alt Foods and Farmspeak Technology, two of the ventures that participated in our New Economy Booster program, are working to tackle this problem. They focus on creating impact-oriented solutions for the agricultural sector by supporting farmers and making food more accessible to Nigerians.

Alt Foods: providing locally sourced food options to young Nigerians

Alt Foods aims to bridge the gap between locally sourced food and non-consumption”, in the words of Pascaline Opeodu, one of its Co-Founders. She shares a passion for food, sustainable development, and women’s rights with Comfort Oladeji, her cofounder, who she met at university. This led them to create their venture, focused on improving access to local, affordable food while making a positive impact in local farming communities.

“Alt Foods aims to bridge the gap between locally sourced food and non-consumption.” — Pascaline Opeodu, Co-Founder of Alt Foods.

Their debut product ‘Egbo’ – or maize grits – is a local food slowly losing popularity because of the 7 hours of cooking time it requires. They sell a version that only takes 45 minutes to cook. The maize is purchased from local farmers in Oyo state, processed by a team of women who are mostly survivors of gender-based violence, packaged with eco-friendly materials, and marketed to millennials and Gen Zs who are largely unfamiliar with the dish. 

Their goal is to provide affordable and nutritious alternatives to highly processed fast food, expand their offerings, and eventually regain love for healthy, local cuisine. By sourcing and producing this food locally, Alt foods is contributing to the agricultural economy while enabling people to access affordable and quality food.

Farmspeak Technology: transforming poultry farming systems

In the words of Adaeze Akpagbula, one of the founding members of Farmspeak Technology, the company is “motivated by the need to solve societal challenges using tech.” It focuses on addressing extreme poverty within small and medium-scale poultry farmers through agricultural technology. Their software and hardware solutions aim to enhance data-driven agriculture and improve the economic outcomes of the farmers. 

“Farmspeak Technology is motivated by the need to solve societal challenges using tech.” — Adaeze Akpagbula, Farmspeak Technology Co-Founder.

Many small and medium-scale poultry farmers in Nigeria still do not have access to modern farming practices that could increase their productivity. To solve this, Farmspeak currently offers two tech solutions that allow farmers to work remotely more often and help automate the farming process: 

  • FS Manager: an electronic diary that enables users to track sales, inventory, vaccination dates, weather forecasts, and even diagnose poultry diseases. 
  • Penkeep: a device that monitors climatic data of poultry pens to automatically regulate air quality, heating, cooling, feeding, and drinking in poultry pens.  

Adaeze states that the company is primarily driven by impact, not profit. Their main goals are to improve the livelihood of the farmers they work with and contribute to better food security in the nation. With their technology, farmers can reduce poultry mortality, increase yield per cycle, and so improve the availability of poultry at affordable prices to Nigerians while also improving the farmers’ economic gain. 

The need for this kind of technology in Africa is clear. Proof of it is that Farmspeak Technology was recently featured as an innovator on Baobab Insights’ selection of 40 Precision Agriculture Companies in Africa – a list of companies doing the necessary work of transforming Africa’s agriculture through technology. 

To learn more about these and other impact-driven businesses take a look at the New Economy Booster’s DealBook, which showcases the companies that joined the program to access support and resources to help ensure their sustainability during and after the pandemic.

This article is part of a series featuring impact-driven entrepreneurs from Ghana and Nigeria sparking innovation in COVID-19 affected sectors. To keep up to date with the New Economy Booster program, subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and listen to the testimonies of the participants and program managers on our YouTube channel.