Giving Compass' Take:

• Devex explores the emergence of agriculture technology companies delivering tools to smallholder farmers in Nigeria to help them scale their output and increase food security at the same time.

• Like any social innovation, data is a crucial element to these efforts. But it's clear that the digital revolution in agriculture can be a boon to low-poverty regions in Africa and elsewhere.

Here are more ways to tackle agriculture challenges through impact investing.

As the sun appeared on the horizon in the village of Jere in northwestern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, Moses Magaji hunched over his hoe, weeding out grass from the rice plant.

“I love farming more than any other thing, but farming has also become a lot harder than it was in the late ’60s and early ’70s,” Magaji said, without looking up. Behind him, an electrically-powered, self-propelled Reinke center pivot irrigation system moved noisily back and forth across a 20-hectare paddy field.

“In those days farmers had a lot of money; we sold our crops after harvest and it was enough for us,” said the 54-year-old smallholder farmer ...

Today, more than 80 percent of Nigeria’s farmers are smallholder farmers and they are the main producers of over 90 percent of domestic output. A World Bank 2016 report found that “half of working Nigerians are in smallholder farming” but this group accounts for the “poorest 40 percent of the population compared to only 17 percent of wage workers.”

Poverty amongst small-scale farmers is due to myriad of problems including low use of mechanization, poor agricultural extension systems, poor road networks, inadequate market information, and lack of access to credit and quality inputs such as fertilizer and seed. In recent times, climate change — which is marked by irregular rainfall patterns and rising temperatures — has made things worse.

To address the shortfalls, a number of agritech startups have appeared in Nigeria of late, hoping to use a range of tools to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers.

These firms, including FarmCrowdy, ThriveAgric, and Verdant AgricTech, believe digital agriculture is the route out of poverty for farmers but also the key to ending food insecurity.

Read the full article about agritech startups in Nigeria by Linus Unah at Devex International Development.