By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigerian startup, Releaf, has announced the completion of a $3.3 million pre-Series A to boost its offerings in the agricultural sector through the continued application of technologies.

Samurai Incubate Africa led the oversubscribed round, with participation from Consonance Investment Managers, Mr. Stephen Pagliuca, Chairman of Bain Capital, and Mr. Jeff Ubben, founder of Inclusive Capital Partners.

Up next, Releaf’s A-series a $4.2 million seed round completed in 2021 who led Samurai Incubate Africa, while Consonance Investment Managers and Mr. Pagliuca also participated.

At the time of its seed round, the startup, which develops technology for the oil palm industry, had completed development of a palm nut sheller, Kraken, which, according to the startup’s CEO and co-founder, Ikenna. Nzewi, could process 500 tons of palm. kernel weekly with 95 percent accuracy.

Since then, the startup has improved Kraken’s functionality, releasing a second portable version: Kraken II. In addition to having the same functions as its predecessor, it costs half as much. At the same time, its portability means it can be transported to distant locations yielding up to three times the profitability.

With the success of Kraken, Releaf has added a geospatial mapping application, SITE, developed in partnership with Professor David Lobell, Professor at Stanford University, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and Director of the Center for Food Safety and the Environment.

SITE uses geospatial mapping tools to determine how much oil palm is planted in an area and its annual yield. It also uses Releaf’s proprietary data on soil type, rainfall, farmer productivity, and third-party data from organizations such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) and the Rocky Mountain Institute. (RMI) to improve business decisions, such as where to locate certain operations.

According to Mr. Uzoma Ayogu, Co-Founder and CTO, “Our seed round was essentially focused on getting the first evolution of Kraken and showing that we can be the first company to take multiple species of very poor quality palm nuts and turn them into in turning them into high-quality palm kernel oil.”

“After testing that, we needed to find the best way to place this technology dynamically, and over the past few months, we’ve advanced Kraken’s evolution from static to portable while significantly reducing the cost. [Kraken II] while new products are added [SITE] to complement the suite of technology we already have.”

Combining the two allows Uyo-based Releaf to target the best opportunities in Nigeria’s oil palm belt rather than just sourcing crops within 100 kilometers of a fixed processing site like existing food processors .

“The greatest benefit for them [farmers] With this new evolution of Kraken and SITE, many offer farmers low prices because they have to pay a lot for logistics. But now that we can eliminate 80 percent of logistics costs and process much closer to farmers, we can return much of that profit to them while keeping more for ourselves while even improving the quality of the final product. Mr. Ayogu added.

Adding her input, Ms. Rena Yoneyama, managing partner at leading investor, Samurai Incubate, in a statement, alluded to Releaf’s success with Kraken as proof of the validity of the startup’s ideas.

“Releaf’s success with their pilot Kraken validates their thesis, and we are excited to continue supporting their ambitious vision to create efficient supply chains within the African agricultural market.

“They have added key members to their management team and continue to impress us with their rapid business growth and technological development. We look forward to more of the same success as the team implements Kraken II and SITE.”