NIGERIA – Releaf, an Agritech startup disrupting Africa’s food processing industry, has raised US$3.3 million in an oversubscribed Pre-Series A funding round led by Samurai Incubate Africa, who re-invested after leading Releaf’s seed round.
The startup founded in 2017 by Ikenna Nzewi and Uzoma Ayogu, is on a mission to make food abundant, sustainable, and profitable in Africa.
Starting with sustainable oil palm in Nigeria, Releaf develops technology to enable decentralized purchasing and processing of raw crops to improve profitability and prevent post-harvest loss for a more climate-resilient future.
The new funding, according to Releaf, will support the launch of two new technologies: Kraken II – a portable version of its award-winning palm nut de-sheller, and SITE – a geospatial mapping application that informs the most profitable positioning of food processing assets.
The company argued that Africa will represent 40% of the human population by the end of the 21st century and the fast-moving consumer goods market will emerge as its first globally relevant industrial sector.
It added that its technology is designed to accelerate this industrialization while ensuring inclusive success for the planet, farmers, food factories, and consumers in one of the greatest economic opportunities globally.
Kraken II is a portable, lower-cost version of Releaf’s Kraken – West Africa’s most advanced palm nut de-sheller, as efficient as its static predecessor and costs half as much.
The tech, can attain 3x profitability owing to its ability to be transported to high-density farming areas, eliminating more than 80 percent of margin-eroding logistics costs.
Meanwhile, the company said SITE was developed in collaboration with Stanford University’s Professor David Lobell, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, whose team led the refinement of the age identification process for oil palm trees in Nigeria.
According to Nzewi, Relief built SITE as an internal software for positioning Kraken factories—after some consulted geospatial mapping companies failed to provide them with the depth of analysis they needed.
Releaf believes the combination of Kraken II and SITE will enable it—and other startups that plug in—to target optimal opportunities across Nigeria’s oil palm belt rather than being limited to sourcing crops within 100 kilometers of a fixed processing site.
Uzoma Ayogu, CTO and co-founder of Releaf said: “SITE and Kraken II are the next steps in our plan to fundamentally transform the efficiency of agricultural supply chains in Africa and we are excited to have partnered with an exceptional cohort of investors and collaborators to roll out these technologies. To make food supply chains profitable, we must maximize extraction yields with leading processing technology and minimize logistics costs by bringing processing capacity closer to farmers.”
“Before Releaf, stakeholders had to choose between one or the other – large factories had great technology but were far away, leaving most farmers with rudimentary technology to process their crops. We’re now able to maximize both.”
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