Agriculture is an integral part of any economy and countries who fully realize this fact are put in a strong position when it comes to global economic affairs. Agriculture is the mainstay of some of the most successful economies of today’s world.
Zimbabwe once had a reputation as Africa’s ‘breadbasket’ before it started to experience dwindling fortunes in its agricultural sector. Long before now, the country flourished in agriculture as it was well-known for its successful agricultural ventures – just as it was also famed for its rich collection of natural resources including such precious metals as platinum, gold, diamond, and nickel.
But the tables did take a misguided turn and the country soon found itself in a difficult position in the area of food production. In recent times, the country has seen itself plunge deeper into a mire where it is unable to even produce enough food for the teeming population, let alone for exports. A return to the drawing board is, thus, imperative. And that is to say; more attention needs to be focused on the Zimbabwean agricultural sector and getting more people involved in the country’s food production venture.
Shiri; a startup founded by Tatenda Ndambakuwa in 2017, is doing its bit to help develop the country’s agricultural sector. The company is taking the initiative to educate, inform, and equip locals with a view to improving the country’s agricultural sector.
TechZim reports that “Shiri serves up tech solutions that provide Africans with information on agriculture so as to enhance and manage food production, thus minimizing the likelihood of food shortages on the continent.” This would help farmers to be more successful as they become better equipped for their work.
Shiri develops content and web applications to create an agricultural information and resource hub for the African continent. Their app makes it possible for farmers to better manage their food production system and minimize the likelihood of food shortages and inefficiencies.
Shiri provides solutions such as ‘Connect to Share’ which allows smallholder farmers to share resources and increase dependable productivity. It is not all farmers that have the means and opportunity to purchase important farm equipment such as tractors and livestock – with this initiative from Shiri, these groups of farmers are catered for.
In addition, with their ‘Connect to Plan’ feature, they help farmers plan accordingly and efficiently through in-built customized record keeping and weather alerts. Also, seeing communication as an important part of work, Shiri enables farmers to communicate with fellow farmers, vendors, and suppliers; which in turn helps to spread knowledge and information among them.
More so, Shiri helps farmers to trade better and get more income by connecting farmers to food processing plants, vendors and markets. This helps farmers get timely fresh food supplies to the people who need them. The startup has introduced a number of important initiatives that have changed the game for farmers in Zimbabwe.
Shiri also boasts a number of community initiatives that have been of great help. Some of which include student engagement which sees the startup work “with schools and universities to inspire a new generation of people who understand the importance of agriculture.” Likewise, the startup also hosts agricultural days at different institutions where students plant in school gardens and at the same time learn about agriculture.
Also, in a bid to create partnerships for on-the-ground agricultural research, the startup works with local African farmers and various regional and international universities. In addition, it facilitates agricultural workshops through its community agricultural education.
Tatenda Ndambakuwa, the Founder of Shiri, isn’t only passionate about agriculture. Although a mathematician and urban planner by training, she is also quite passionate about ending hunger.
Living through and surviving food shortages in Zimbabwe in 2008 inspired her to be more passionate about agriculture and fight against extreme hunger and starvation in parts of Africa. Ever since, she has made it her mission to help curb the menace of food shortages in society.
Tatenda is not only an App developer. She is also an expert in data science and geographical information. She is working tirelessly to help curb food insecurity in Zimbabwe, and as well help farmers be more productive and efficient in their endeavor.
Currently, the Shiri team is made up of an agricultural scientist, a software developer, and a geospatial and data scientist; all of whom are women from Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and the United States.
It is important to note that Shiri was one of the Zimbabwean startups which represented Zimbabwe at the Regional Grand Finale of the Southern Africa Start-up Awards 2018 in the ‘Best Food Tech/Agric-Tech Startup’ category.
The Southern Africa Start-up Awards is the Southern African Chapter of the Global Startup Awards. The awards seek to recognize the trailblazers in startup and tech community, as well as connect, support and celebrate key players in national and regional startup ecosystems worldwide so as to create opportunities for international partnerships, commercial exchange, and investment opportunities.
Reports suggest that Shiri intends to grow the farming community and build a network of prosperous farmers. The startup is hoping to bring the farming community closer together and help make farming a more attractive prospect, as well as bring the vision of food security to fruition. Shiri has set its sights on becoming one of the largest agricultural resource hubs in Africa.
According to Tatenda, “It is my crazy idea and my most meaningful commitment to make sure hunger is eradicated in my lifetime.”
Feature image courtesy: shiri