Naspers to invest R100m in agritech start-up Aerobotics

Aerobotics uses artificial intelligence, drone and satellite imagery to help farmers manage crop health and predict crop yields.
Image: Shutterstock

Naspers has agreed to invest R100-million in South African agriculture-technology start-up Aerobotics, which uses artificial intelligence and drone and satellite imagery to help farmers manage crop health and predict crop yields.

The funding round comes a little over a year after Aerobotics announced it had expanded its Series-A funding round from $2-million to $4-million with Paper Plane Ventures.

The Naspers round is being done through its early-stage funding initiative, Naspers Foundry.

The company has progressed its technology to engineer fruit counts, and to provide data on fruit size and colour

Aerobotics, which was founded by James Paterson (who serves as its CEO) and Benji Meltzer (chief technology officer) in 2014, uses its technology to provide its farming clients with tree counts, the identification of missing trees, and the size and health of trees.

“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,” Naspers said in a statement on Wednesday announcing the investment.

‘Gaining momentum’

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO of Naspers’s South African operations, said: “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. This type of tech innovation addresses societal challenges and is exactly the type of early-stage company that Naspers Foundry looks to back.”

Naspers launched Naspers Foundry in 2018. The initiative has R1.4-billion to invest into the South African technology sector. Last year, Foundry invested R30-million in online home cleaning services business SweepSouth.

This article was published with the permission of Tech Central. The original publication can be viewed here.

(c) 2020 NewsCentral Media

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This IS the future … with large climate fluctuations, increasing and uncertain labour inputs and costs, uncertain land ownership, every plant will be maximised for value. Hopefully still organically though.

Brilliant article. Thank you for highlighting. South African farmers are brilliant and this will give South Africa a welcome boost. Thank you Naspers for believing and investing in South Africa! Baie Dankie.

Can they invest in the sky so it can rain

Great news .I have been following these guys with interest for a while .
The days of Farmer Brown driving around for 6 hours a day checking on his farm will soon be a thing of the past .
Not to mention getting optimal production out of every tree/vine .

Exciting times, personally on my farm, we measure everything to the smallest detail (a lot with technology), but there will always be something about open space on farms.

Tech is getting huge in agri. Sensors and communications are now so easy and common that the drone complexity is not needed. You can get realtime monitoring from sensors giving air and soil water and temperature.

Mazal tov Benji & James. I watched you both speak about your offering at a talk a few years ago and have been “watching this space” ever since.

Excellent innovation and initiative. Well done!

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