Revolutionizing Africa’s agriculture: PCS AGRI’s journey to mitigate losses through yield prediction

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 13 June 2023 at 07:13

One in five Africans goes to bed hungry, and an estimated 140 million people in Africa face acute food insecurity, according to the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2022 Mid-Year Update.
These figures underscore the urgent need for Africa to develop solutions that ensure food sufficiency and resilient agriculture in the face of challenges like climate change.

As set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG2), the journey towards food and nutritional security for Africa has a clear destination to achieve zero hunger. The target is to ensure access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food for all people by 2030. It is undeniable that technology, increasingly becoming a prerequisite, plays a vital role in this journey.

During the recent 8th Africa Agribusiness and Science Week (AASW) in Durban, South Africa, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, stressed the importance of leveraging partnerships and technologies to eradicate hunger in Africa. He highlighted the need to combine science, technology, and innovation to drive a more productive, efficient, and competitive agricultural system.

These observations make it clear that technology, among other solutions, can accelerate progress in achieving food sufficiency in African countries. With innovative approaches that help farmers adapt to climate change and proactively address challenges, African farmers can contribute to the continent’s ambition of achieving food sufficiency.

One of the critical players promising to drive this cause is PCS AGRI, a startup based in Morocco that is revolutionizing agriculture through its tomato yield prediction platform. Recognizing the need to overhaul the agricultural system in Africa, PCS AGRI has developed a yield estimation application that enables farmers to make informed decisions, improve yields, and mitigate losses.

The innovative technology was among solutions showcased on the sidelines of the recently concluded GITEX Africa Summit held in Marrakech, Morocco from 31st May to 2nd June 2023.

It brought together more than 900 tech companies, startups, government entities, and participants from over 100 countries.

Speaking to IGIHE, Tahar Hamdani, the CEO of PCS AGRI, disclosed that the idea emerged when they identified the challenges faced by farmers and developed the application nearly one year ago.

Working with farmers growing tomatoes on 2000 hectares, they have developed a platform that is currently being tested and has proven to be 80% accurate.

"We assist growers in accurately predicting their harvest yields and timing by leveraging a mobile application that solely requires the grower to capture videos. Through cloud-based processing, we are capable of distinguishing various colors in the fruit at present, with future prospects of also detecting the fruit’s caliber within the captured videos," elaborated Tahar.

Tahar Hamdani, CEO of PCS AGRI taking a visitor through the platform’s features in Morocco.

As he said, this platform provides growers with valuable insights into their harvests for the next two weeks, enabling them to plan their operations effectively, estimate labor requirements, and optimize packaging processes. The application is particularly valuable for Moroccan farmers exporting to European markets, where precise estimations are crucial.

Tahar believes that PCS AGRI’s solution is ideal for addressing common scenarios faced by growers.

"Our solution is currently in the demonstration and testing phase. We have achieved an impressive 80% accuracy thus far, with our ultimate goal set at 90% accuracy. We firmly believe that within the next one or two months, we will successfully attain this target," he noted.

Tahar emphasized the importance of providing growers with effective solutions due to the challenges they face in their daily interactions with customers.

“They are communicating that I will give my clients 10 tons of products but they finally deliver only 7 tons and their customers are not happy. So, we need an accurate estimation to have win-win collaboration," he stated.

Regarding the payment structure, Tahar revealed that every grower pays a yearly subscription fee for the application per hectare.

"We are testing it with three main growers in Morocco who cultivate tomatoes on 2000 hectares. After validation, it will be commercialized to more farmers," he noted.

The introduction of similar innovations suggests that Africa can elevate its agricultural system and extend the technology to other crops, aligning with ongoing efforts to mitigate risks in agriculture.

Besides, the startup’s story can serves as an inspiration for many to continue innovating and contribute to the advancement of agriculture in Africa.

A farmer harvesting tomatoes in Gisagara District, Southern Province. Photo Theophile Niyitegeka