Agriculture today routinely uses sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence, precision agriculture which includes temperature and moisture sensors and indoor vertical farming. Even still, new farming technologies continue to be developed every day to allow farmers to be more profitable, efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly. In the world, agriculture provides sustenance, income and employment for many. In Zimbabwe, agricultural activities provide employment and income for 60-70 per cent of the population. Agriculture also supplies 60 per cent of the raw materials required by the industrial sector and contributes 40 per cent of total export earnings. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that agriculture alone contributes 17 per cent to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Because agriculture plays such a crucial role in our economy & livelihoods, a local start-up called Farmbuzz Solutions, which pitched at the 2019 Youth Connekt Start-up Tour Bus in Harare, has delved into the sector to promote its growth and efficiency. The company assists in promoting smart farming solutions in Zimbabwe by bringing in new agricultural technologies and innovations aimed at sustaining and improving food production. The founder of Farmbuzz Anesu Mapisa, a farmer at heart and qualified agronomist, said the journey started on 1 May 2019 when he started providing free farming tips on social media. The traction and interest generated was so incredible that Mapisa decided to transform the informal community into the fully-fledged start-up Farmbuzz is today.  Farmbuzz’s first year of operations was immensely successful as it grew from one service to four within months. Now a registered company with offices in Harare, Farmbuzz is helping a lot of farmers to efficiently farm produce employing new technologies. The young company has eight committed partners and eight young experts as part of their team working on accounting, agronomy and company management services. 

The company’s solutions include smart farm management services which cater to small scale, young, aspiring farmers as well as Zimbabwean farmers living in the diaspora. The other services include smart farming information dissemination which includes a digital magazine and a TV show.  Farmbuzz also partners with young technology engineers and innovators to bring new innovations to farmers. To date Farmbuzz has worked directly with over 50 farmers and has influenced over 100,000 via their online channels and magazine. Farmbuzz is a self-funded company meaning that the partners are currently injecting their savings into the company in order to build operations. Clients subscribe monthly to receive services which include online consultancy, farm visits and/or full-time farm management services.

Mapisa notes that the journey has not been easy or smooth sailing. Some of the problems the young company faces include client aversion, i.e an environment that is not yet ready to adopt smart farming methods as well as high data costs. Farmbuzz largely distributes its information via online channels and  most of the farmers they work with do not use mobile apps & are therefore unable to fully embrace the wave of smart farming.  In order to be inclusive,  Farmbuzz now employs more affordable channels of communication, such as WhatsApp, to deliver their services. As with all start-ups in Zimbabwe, Farmbuzz also faces some financial challenges but continues to strive to deliver great products/services to its customers. Mapisa believes their values and work will go a long way towards making Zimbabwe the breadbasket of Africa again. 

Pitching at the Youth Connekt Start-Up Tour Bus in 2019 provided Farmbuzz with the platform to pitch and raise awareness of their initiative to a larger audience. In Mapisa’s own words, 

“[Youth Connekt Zimbabwe] gave us the wings to fly by giving us lectures that helped us grow our business. One of the most unforgettable lectures was the Marketing Strategy & Business Model Development session where we learned that you can start by providing your services to a certain niche market and then grow from there. I believe that every youth start-up should pass through Youth Connekt programs for growth.” 

Farmbuzz’s dream and future plan is to establish a smart farm that will become the hub of smart farming in Africa. 

To get in touch with Farmbuzz Solutions please visit their social media platforms noted below:

Facebook: @farmbuzzz, Twitter: @farmbuzz1, Instagram: @farmbuzz

How can we improve the agricultural value chain? What do you think is the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe ? Share in the comments below: