In 2017, Thierry Shema met John Rwabigwi, a farmer from Gatsibo District. Rwabigwi revealed to him that he and his colleagues were struggling to properly handle their maize produce in season A which was quite rainy with highly unpredictable weather. Rwabigwi also told him that their harvest was highly associated with poor quality and aflatoxin was a great threat. Moreover, they were facing a loss ranging between 17% and 22% of their total harvest as well as market rejections which were hampering their financial development. According to research by the University of Georgia, aflatoxin is a naturally occurring toxin produced by the fungus aspergillus flavus. On maize, the fungus can be recognised by a gray-green or yellow-green mold growing on corn kernels in the field or in storage. Plant stress due to drought, heat or insect damage during fungus growth usually increases aflatoxin levels. Consumed by humans, Aflatoxins can lead to acute poisoning, which has damage the liver. According to World Health Organization, aflatoxins are “poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of fungi (moulds) that are found naturally all over the world; they can contaminate food crops and pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock.” Aflatoxins pose a significant economic burden, causing an estimated 25% or more of the world’s food crops to be destroyed annually, WHO said in a 2018 report. From Rwabigwi’s story, 25-year-old Shema realised the farmers experienced huge setbacks regarding the lack of decent and affordable technology in maize drying where it took farmers more than three weeks to reduce moisture content from their maize harvest from the rate of 18-13 per cent. He, therefore, took an initiative to develop a sustainable solution that would protect both the farmers’ harvest and the environment. In 2018, he co-founded Crop Tech ltd, an Agri-tech company that aims to provide modern on-farm harvest handling services to farmers in Rwanda and to help them to overcome post-harvest losses. Shema, the managing director of the company, says that they strongly focus on maize growers and offer services like maize threshing, maize drying, crop logistics and transportation as well as farmer linkage to the high-end market once the harvest has been properly handled. He says they have manufactured two machines for maize threshing and drying in collaboration with a private engineering firm and these machines can now work nicely. Farmers speak out Talking about how Crop Tech works, he says that a farmer provides information about their location, the available maize quantity to be handled and then the company moves to his farm to offer the services with the aid of a truck, maize dryers, threshers and other necessary equipment. Djamila Muhawenimana, a maize farmer from Eastern Province, shared how these services have been helpful. “Before I started working with Crop Tech, shredding and drying maize would take us about two months but now it takes less time. For example, it takes only three hours to dry maize and the harvest has increased with good quality. Their project is nice because it saves our time and they also provide good services,” she says. Patient Nshongore also noted that working with Crop Tech has sped up his work. “They have saved our time. Before working with Crop Tech, our harvest would perish or catch aflatoxin because the maize was not well dried. But now the machines dry them well and we can get the whole harvest and store it unworried that it will be damaged,” he says. Their price, he adds, is also very low compared to employing manpower. Shema reveals that his company raises awareness about their services through community radio talks and physical meetings with the leaders of farmers’ cooperatives. Agric ‘holds enormous potential’ Asked why they started in the agriculture sector, he says that it’s because this sector is the backbone of socio-economic development of the country and thus holds more opportunities than any other sector. He said the sector still has gaps that need to be plugged. By the end of 2019, the start-up had raised $1,150 in business funding which largely supported them in further market research and product development, he said. “We also secured a $12,000 social loan at the end of 2020 and it helped us to board the equipment we needed in order to serve our first customers. Currently, we have two big farmers that are being constantly served with harvest handling service customers,” he added. “Our weekly sales revenue is $100 from the crop logistics and transportation services. We have now employed two drivers, one technician and four casual workers.” Asked about their pricing, Shema said that they price Rwf10,000 per tonne for maize threshing and Rwf18,000 per tonne for maize drying. Their main challenge, he said, revolves around less investment to meet the current market demand. However, he said they plan to grow their customer base and boost current technical capacity by increasing the number of devices used and scaling up their business across other African countries.