Two of Africa’s greatest challenges are food security and timely access to markets. In the ingenious innovation developed by Wings4Farmers, run by 2015 TEF Entrepreneur Hank DeBey, it is not only a case of two birds being killed with one stone, but also creating a solution that does not come at grave cost to the natural environment. We travelled to Mali to find out more about how the Wings4Farmer’s team and their invention is transforming the face of Agriculture.
As with many inventions, the levopter’s potential was not immediately apparent. Operating in a similar manner to a drone; the device is a wind powered aircraft that does not require a pilot and is capable of travelling many miles and carrying cargo that weighs approximately 2000 pounds. DeBey and his team when testing prototypes gradually saw that levopters could create incredible value to the agriculture industry in Mali and across Africa. Farmers, especially those residing in remote areas relied on infrequent or basic modes of transportation which meant many of their crops were spoilt by the time they reached market. With a levopter, farmers are in the position to load their cargo onto one of the 6 pods and ensure it is transported to markets in a timely fashion. The double-win in the invention is the zero carbon footprint levopters produce, thus making them an environmentally sound invention.
The critical importance of a vibrant and fully optimised Agriculture sector existing in Africa cannot be over-emphasised. Indeed three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; zero hunger, good health and well-being and Climate Action are addressed in the levopter’s wider adoption across the region. Furthermore, with Agriculture remaining the sector in which most working Africans are employed in, and the greatest area of un-utilized arable land also in Africa, the development dividend gained from
In the three years since the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme commenced, Agriculture remains the number one industry that our entrepreneurs are involved in, with a median of 29% of all businesses operating in this sector. However, the team at Wings4Farmers represent an important development as solutions that tackle multiple challenges gain investment and global adoption. We are excited because a world where transportation is powered by levopters is one where sustainable growth, socio economic development, a cleaner environment and health and well-being are a reality for many rather than the privileged few.