Naspers ploughs R100 million into South Africa agritech business

Naspers says it has invested R100 million in agritech business Aerobotics, through its early- stage business funding initiative, Naspers Foundry.

Aerobotics is a subscription-based artificial intelligence (AI) company that provides intelligent tools for the agricultural industry to manage its crops. The platform uses AI, drones and software to help farmers manage crop health, and predict crop yields

The company was founded by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer in 2014.

The company has progressed its technology to engineer fruit counts, and to provide data on fruit size and colour. “Farmers use the intelligence to manage their farms, trees and fruit more efficiently. Aerobotics delivers the insights through their proprietary Aeroview platform and Aeroview InField mobile app,” Naspers said.

James Paterson, Aerobotics chief executive officer, said: “Our journey is only just beginning, but already Aerobotics has demonstrated success in our ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry.

“We have seen great support from commercial-scale farmers and, more recently, crop insurance companies in the US who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.”

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, chief executive officer of Naspers in South Africa, said: “Food security is of paramount importance in South Africa, and the Aerobotics platform provides a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure.

“This young, all South African team, has produced a world-class technology solution in South Africa and has also successfully entered the US market where they are gaining momentum.”

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