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How to Run African Farms like Factories

Just months before mechanical engineering student Desmond Koney was due to graduate from college, his father died suddenly, leaving Desmond a struggling pineapple farm on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana’s capital. Things didn’t turn out to be nearly so simple, but today the 29-year-old Koney is poised to revolutionize the way people farm, not just in Ghana but across Africa. His company, Complete Farmer combines what Koney describes as an “Airbnb land model” with a “crowdfarming” approach to capital investment to deliver made-to-order produce to clients around the world. Armed with a business model that involved using sensors and drones to monitor every stage of the production process, he and two friends entered a pitch competition. They placed third, and a member of audience liked their pitch enough to offer them $50,000 and a spot on the MEST incubation program for African entrepreneurs. Complete Farmer has successfully completed 12 projects and currently has plantings of an additional 3,500 acres of chili peppers, ginger, sweet potatoes, soybeans, yellow maize, sesame seeds, groundnuts and tigernuts destined for India, China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Germany.