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Agritech start-up Aerobotics raises R250m in funding round led by Naspers

20 January 2021 8:32 PM
Tags:
Agriculture industry
Agriculture
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Artificial Intelligence
Naspers
Crops
AI
dRONE
agritech
Aerobotics
James Paterson
farm management
funding round
agricultural drones

The local company is planning to expand its global reach. Bruce Whitfield interviews Aerobotics CEO James Paterson.

Agritech start-up Aerobotics helps farmers manage crop health and predict yield through artificial intelligence technology.

The Cape Town-based company has made huge inroads across the world since its launch in 2013.

The use of satellites and drones enables it to provide data on vital factors such as tree health.

RELATED: The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

Aerobotics has just raised $17 million (R253 million) in a series-B funding round led by major tech investor Naspers.

"We’re committed to providing intelligent tools to optimise automation, minimise inputs and maximise production" says CEO James Paterson in a statement.

In total the company's raised just over R300 million so far, Paterson tells Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show.

We're a proudly South African business. It's exciting to have Naspers on board - also a South African company and great partners to scale this tech out globally.

James Paterson, Co-founder and CEO - Aerobotics

This is where I grew up, on a farm in Clanwilliam in the Western Cape and we've had great support from the farming community to build out this technology.

James Paterson, Co-founder and CEO - Aerobotics

Apart from growing the business in South Africa, they've seen good traction in the big market for agriculture which is the US he says.

What is it that distinguishes Aerobotics' expertise as a unique offering?

Paterson returns to his experience growing up on a Clanwilliam farm.

I used to help with a lot of the infield data collection - measuring how fruit are growing; whether they need to be thinned out; looking for pests and diseases out in the field. It's an extremely difficult task!

James Paterson, Co-founder and CEO - Aerobotics

It's these challenging tasks that Aerobotics aims to automate.

We use drones and satellites; collect this data at large scale and then we run that through artificial intelligence which is able to extract information from the imagery... right from tree health levels down to a fruit level where we can actually measure fruit size...

James Paterson, Co-founder and CEO - Aerobotics

We don't just work with farmers or growers - we work through to the buyers to get an early estimate on what yield's coming in... and also with the crop advisors... and insurers.

James Paterson, Co-founder and CEO - Aerobotics

Listen to Paterson on the company's expansion plans below:




20 January 2021 8:32 PM
Tags:
Agriculture industry
Agriculture
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Artificial Intelligence
Naspers
Crops
AI
dRONE
agritech
Aerobotics
James Paterson
farm management
funding round
agricultural drones

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