It all began in 1996 in the village of Yammama. On a clear day here, a blue sky covers the heavens and white cotton fields light the ground below. A dozen brightly-painted trucks are lined up; workers load sacks upon sacks of cotton. Then six-year-old Yammama, who carries the name of his village, walks the fields with his father. He saw the workers sweating and vowed to improve the work of farmers in Africa.
In 2014, he founded Verdant AgriTech, a social enterprise to support rural farmers with mobile technologies for sustainable farming and improved food production.
“The company was founded on the premise that smallholders should be able to produce more, sell more, make more profit and thereby attain an improved standard of living by using simple technologies,” he says.
Yammama began with 50 farmers in Katsina, his home state. He taught them to use their basic phones to gather market information, weather and management skills, and financial services.
Yammama has achieved a lot. He studied information technology and business information systems at Middlesex University, London, has a master’s in creative technology, was selected among 50 Global Entrepreneurs for the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and won numerous awards, including the British Council and Virgin Atlantic’s Enterprise Challenge in 2015. This gave him the chance to be mentored by Sir Richard Branson and receive a start-up grant for Verdant.
In collaboration with Oxfam and GIZ, Verdant is currently running a project to support 25,000 farmers. This June, Yammama will also receive the Queen’s Young Leaders Award in England.
Yammama has profited from linking technology to Africa’s rich red soil.