Crowdfarming:

Tech meets Agriculture for real empowerment

Livestock farming has been a key feature of farming in South African rural communities. Although livestock farming is a cornerstone of the rural economy, owners of livestock in these areas face various challenges that make it hard for small-scale farmers to grow and unlock the financial value of their herds. Enter Crowdfarming, a concept developed by an agritech entrepreneur, Ntuthuko Shezi.

Shezi founded his company, Livestock Wealth, in 2015 when, as an electromechanical engineer by profession, he identified the potential for crowdfarming. The concept enables small-scale farmers to access operating capital by allowing agricultural enthusiasts in urban areas to invest in cattle held at small-scale farms. Shezi, like many young professional South Africans, understood that a large subset of the urban population had a genuine interest in agriculture, but could not participate in it due to land and time constraints.

Livestock Wealth uses a crowdfund or “crowdfarming” model to connect investors with small-scale farms through its mobile-based app, MyFarmbook.

One can invest in a healthy and fully maintained free-range ox that’s in it’s last six months for only R11 529. The free-range ox grows healthily in the farmer’s care over a six-month period until it is ready for sale. This exercise can enable the investor to earn a minimum profit of R576 and a maximum profit of R701 depending on the average weight and beef price. A total maximum income of R12 330.06 is paid out in six months, and thereafter you can decide to reinvest or collect your earnings.

The third, and perhaps most advanced, option, is investing in a pregnant cow at R18 730 for a return of R21 352, calculated on a 14% interest rate over 12 months. To help investors track progress of their investments on MyFarmbook, Livestock Wealth partnered with MTN and Huawei for easily accessible tailored data on each investment item.

An investment in livestock like any investment has its associated risks which require the investor to be fully informed about before investing.

This agritech start-up was launched in 2015, when it had only 26 cows in its portfolio. It currently has more than 2 000 cows with an estimated market worth of R36 million across several small-scale farms. Livestock Wealth has raked in over R50 million in crowd investments, with a total dividend pay-out of more than R5 million.

Livestock Wealth has also provided exclusive market access for small-scale farmers. After gaining almost 4 000 investors (domestic and international) and 50 partner farmers, the crowd farming platform now owns its own land and has expanded its offerings to include GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth, a shared farming service that buys, cares for and sells free-range, grass-fed beef. Shezi has also indicated that there’s more tech coming for this agritech start-up.

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