Kenyan agro-tech startup, Lentera Limited, is out on a fundraising trail, aimed at raising US$560,000 seed round to build out crop-specific versions of its climate-smart solutions for African farmers, reports Disrupt Africa.
Lentera uses remote weather sensors, satellite data and drone imagery to enable farmers to adapt to climate change through smart inputs, precision agriculture and conservation tillage. Its precision agriculture product uses sensor beacons to transmit farm data enabling timely decisions.
The startup was founded in 2017 as a soil health and crop nutrition provider, offering thousands of farmers across Kenya a range of specially formulated organic fertilisers; but quickly pivoted to a broad scope of farm support services.
“We launched our precision agriculture services that offer farm software, weather sensors, drone and satellite imaging as well as automated advisory services on market conditions,” Moses Kimani, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lentera, told Disrupt Africa.
The startup currently offers bespoke “accessible climate-smart agricultural solutions” divided into three analogous service offerings: precision agriculture – including farm imaging services, monitoring sensors, pest control; climate-smart inputs – including organic fertilizers and enriched crop inputs; and conservation agriculture – including training farmers on best conservation practices and providing soil-friendly tillage instruments.
Lentera is also piloting integrated farm advisory and mapping platform that offers readily-available, farm-specific information to farm owners.
“We collect satellite data of the farm every five days to monitor progress. We also install ground weather stations for selected farms. Our algorithm highlights problems with the growth in crops, and provides insights on areas that need chemical soil analysis,” said Kimani. “We provide farmers with advice and supply them with organic inputs that rectify problems with soil acidity as well as poor nutrition levels.”
Lentera is currently raising seed funding round to scale its operations into new markets and build out its integrated mapping and farm advisory ecosystem.
“We are currently raising US$560,000 that will see us develop crop-specific models that will integrate data from our ground sensors, and drone and satellite imaging; and to automate data collection and processing. We want to expand our algorithm to include data from key food crops and commercial crops across East Africa,” said Kimani.
“The startup charges for its drone and satellite imaging services, and also makes money from sales of its climate-smart inputs. In October, it will launch a subscription model for its app, with Kimani hoping to be cash flow positive by the end of the year. Active in Kenya and Uganda for now, Lentera wants to expand wider into the East Africa region, and to some West Africa countries by mid-2020,” reports Disrupt Africa.
Lentera was among the top 10 African startups selected for the Airbus Africa4Future Bizlab acceleration programme.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.