An AgriTech Startup, Save our Agriculture based in Cameroun aims to leverage the Aquaponics model to solve the food sustenance issue across West Africa.
Aquaponics involves using the same resources to farm plants and other aquatic animals e.g fishes, snails, prawns etc. It is a system that combines conventional aquaculture with hydroponics( Cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish.
In a chat zumalo.com, Co-founder and CEO of the company, Flavien Kouatcha explained that the aim is to solve the post-harvest losses(around 40% of the global production) that occur in African Agriculture between rural production areas and urban sales markets.
Flavien explained that Save our Agriculture was launched to find an innovative way to help farmers grow food directly at the points of sale to avoid the logistics problems for farmers and cut costs around supply chain and transport- which is usually one of the most expensive budget lines in farmers accounts.
With aquaponics, the startup solves the problem of space availability in Urban Agriculture. Only 10% of the water consumed in traditional agriculture is used and production is optimised by other attendant processes.
“we are designing and making aquaponics units to grow large volumes of safe food in urban areas. In our aquaponics units, we simultaneously raise fish and grow vegetables, we use the fish waste products as natural fertilizer to grow the vegetables” –Flavien Kouatcha
The co-founder added that the process is completely organic. “There’s zero chemical and our vegetables are the most-favoured on the local market. Additionally, tomatoes, lettuces and chilli pepper are growing 2 to 3 times more rapidly than in traditional agriculture and we only use 10% of the water previously used in conventional agriculture”, he added.
“Leslie had a stand where she was talking about how good finance and investment could help smallholder farmers to improve agricultural yields and better feed the world. I saw a finance manager with an incredible passion for agriculture and I began pitching about my company and how we could work together. This was how the common dream came true!”
After registering the company in 2015, the startup launched its first product in the market in March 2016 and has now expanded from Cameroun into Senegal, with a plan to launch in Nigeria soon. Flavien attributes the steady growth of the company to the common passion for Agriculture of every member of the team.
“What makes our team exceptional is our common passion for agriculture, our common will to be involved in a domain that can deliver better than what it’s actually doing, and the strength we can have together when it comes to helping millions of people have a better life. Our profiles are diversified, I’m an aquaponics expert with a 4-year practice. My co-founder is a financial specialist. Our business development manager Hélène is 61 and has more than 40 years in the conventional agricultural fields. Together, we are raising a stronger voice to change millions of lives”.
Save our Agriculture wants to transform agricultural practices in the world from Africa, from Cameroon and from Douala. The startup registered its first patent at the African Organisation for Intellectual Property in 2016 and are on course to strengthen the aquaponics systems in and around Africa.
The team is on track, as they were awarded the most innovative start-up in Cameroon in 2016 by the Cameroonian Employers Group and in Africa (Marrakesh) by the COP22 organisers and are looking forward to collaborating with potential investors to improve their skills and positively impact the continent and the world at large.