Africa is home to an abundance of agricultural land. According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa has nearly 50 percent of the world’s fertile, usable and uncultivated agricultural land. Food systems across the continent are responding to rapid urbanization, rising incomes, and changing diets. Agricultural value chains are becoming more urbanized and consumer-driven, with a premium on quality and food safety (IPCC). Despite adapting to the needs of the changing demands and employing best practices to harvest high-quality crops, producers and agribusinesses in Africa are struggling to establish a market presence and enter international markets.

To understand the challenges of the agribusiness better and to gain insight into how we can help them, Anteja conducted market research in Rwanda earlier this year. Rwanda is rich in natural resources and bases its economy mainly on agriculture, with 75 % of agricultural production coming from smallholder farmers. In the 2050 national development strategy, the Rwandan government aims to replace subsistence farming with fully monetized and technology-intensive commercial agriculture and agro-processing. Their major exports are tea and coffee, while the exports of superfoods, such as chia seeds and macadamia nuts, are increasing.

An overview of Rwanda’s agriculture sector.

For our research, we interviewed 10 Rwandan agribusinesses and producers of premium ingredients, such as green coffee, organic tea, organic essential oils, avocado, chili, and macadamia. To the question ‘What are the biggest challenges for your company at the moment?’ they most commonly responded:
· a lack of proper marketing platforms that lead to sells
· access to the international market
· not having a direct connection with the final buyers.

These answers lead us to conclude the key challenges faced by Rwandan agribusinesses and producers:

1. Producers don’t have the time or capabilities to build a strong and trusted brand image.

2. Producers are invisible to the international buyers and the global market.

3. Producers struggle to maintain stable connections to the buyers as the links are most often established by various traders.

Workers in a Rwandan agribusiness.
Advantages for choosing to work with a Rwandan agribusiness.

Quite the contrary from the Rwandan research, the interviews with European buyers, which we conducted earlier this year as well, revealed the struggle of European brands and companies when finding reliable and trusted sourcing partners in Africa. European buying companies emphasized that it is “nearly impossible” to find a reliable supplier to directly source from, let alone establishing an efficient communication channel.

It looks like each party must put a lot of effort to connect with the other and is reliant on various traders and export or import agents. Sometimes, they even need to incorporate three or four intermediaries, creating a complex and long value chain. With that many chain links, the transparency is obscured and partnerships compromised. phy2app however, can help solve these problems, faced both by the agribusinesses and buyers. phy2app not only builds the brand’s image but also invites agribusinesses to have a direct connection and communication channel with their buyers. Likewise, it offers the European buyers a platform to assess producers and agribusinesses in a number of relevant criteria, enabling them to choose the best fit for their company and establish a viable communication.

This story was written in collaboration with Gloria Steinmark

Sources:
https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2013/07/22/how-africa-can-transform-land-tenure-revolutionize-agriculture-end-poverty
https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/chapter/chapter-5/