FOR Sub-Saharan Africa

We help our clients invest in and build
successful long-term agri businesses in Africa

We work closely with investors, companies and NGOs throughout the project lifecycle from investment evaluation through to the optimisation of existing agricultural operations, acting as an independent source of advice and practical help.

Our services

Project Development

Agricona can assist clients seeking sites for agricultural development. Using top-down systematic screening based on a variety of factors, we are able to determine the suitability of available sites for your project’s agronomic and economic requirements. The use of satellite and drone remote sensing technology allows us to cover large areas cost effectively before deploying on the ground assessment techniques. Detailed land suitability assessments are conducted on site. These include soil profiling, soil and water samples, and land cover. Beyond the physical qualities of the site, we conduct interviews with local people to better understand the potential risks and opportunities in the areas that will impact on your business.
Agricona can assist you at all stages through the feasibility process, from initial physical site evaluations to pre-feasibility and full feasibility studies, which incorporate a review of an increasingly broad range of physical, legal, economic and cultural factors. Our presence on the ground and our broad experience in these markets can often highlight contextual factors that may otherwise be missed before any substantial financial commitment is made. Agricona is completely independent and will provide you with the information you require in order to reach a well-informed investment decision.
Agricona is well placed to review the technical aspects of a client’s proposed investments in order to verify information provided by project sponsors. We can provide an independent appraisal of a project’s qualities, reviewing assumptions such as projected efficiencies, human resource and input requirements, roll-out schedules and yield forecasts.

Project Operations

Starting up projects on the ground can be challenging, as are meeting budgeted expenditure and timelines, both critical to the success of projects. Where targets are not being achieved, with our expertise and support, we can help companies get back on track within months, establishing firmer foundations for growth and ironing out process and cultural differences that initially impeded progress. We achieve this by providing managerial support and guidance, agronomy services, and developing Standard Operating Procedures and systems to streamline operations and improve job site management. We can also offer farmer training and technical support for outgrower projects.
Yields drive profitability, both for large commercial farms and small scale growers. We help our clients deliver substantial improvements in performance and profitability by reaching optimum yield. We analyse the various yield components and look to improve field husbandry, including variety selection and fertiliser and crop protection programmes.
For outgrower programmes to succeed, farmers need to achieve high yields and to produce a quality crop cost effectively so that both producer and buyer benefit. We assist clients design agronomy programs and production systems suited to the local conditions of the small-scale growers. We can also offer farmer training courses to improve growers’ skills, which allow them to build capacity so that they can leverage inputs and technology effectively.
Periodic technical and operational reviews can provide substance to operational and financial results and provide investors and landowners with a fuller view of a project’s performance and potential performance. These reviews are tailored to the client’s needs and can encompass baseline scenarios and benchmark establishment to improve productivity and operational efficiencies.

Our Experience

At Agricona, we have broad experience advising and managing agricultural projects throughout the African continent.

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    Site assessment for an expansion to 10,000 hectares, implementation of an R&D programme.

    Screening investment opportunities, scouting for land and multiple site assessments, leading to a successful merger and the development of large scale cropping projects for cotton and soy.

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    Multiple site assessments and due diligence studies leading to the successful sale of several farms sites.

    Business and product development for the launch a new seed brand in Malawi.

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    Due diligence, feasibility study, and roll out programme for a 30,000 hectare maize, soy, sunflower, macadamia farm and industrial processing operation.

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    Rehabilitation of 5,000 hectares of existing palm plantations and a 25 tonne/hour oil mill.

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    Due diligence on the livestock sector to assist and advise on the formalisation of the livestock sector at a national scale to promote downstream value addition.

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    Site assessment and due diligence for the successful acquisition of a new farm at a discounted price.

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    Review of several palm and rice investment opportunities.

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    Investment appraisal for the rehabilitation of large-scale rice operations.

The Team

Tom Swithenbank

Tom has extensive emerging markets investment experience. Following a successful career in the City of London as an investment manager, he was appointed Chief Executive of Aricom plc, the AIM-listed Russian iron ore mining company, which he built from start-up to operating asset. Subsequently switching his focus to Africa, as Chief Executive of Energem Biofuels he developed a 2,000 hectare specialist oilseed plantation in Mozambique and a related outgrower programme in Malawi. He has advised clients and managed investment projects across agriculture, mining and renewable energy Africa, Asia and Europe. Tom has a bachelors degree in modern languages from the University of Durham and a Masters in Finance from London Business School. Raised in the UK and France, he speaks native English and French, as well as fluent Russian and German. Tom is currently based in London and travels extensively.

Jon Mc Lea

Jon has broad experience advising and managing agricultural projects throughout the African continent. He has headed large-scale operations and agronomy in palm, specialist oil seeds and mixed arable (maize, rice, sunflower, soya) in Mozambique, Guinea, Malawi and Uganda, many with associated outgrower programmes. In addition to his operational experience, Jon has advised numerous clients in agricultural project feasibility and establishment across crop types in Malawi, Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, Niger as well as South East Asia. With bachelors and masters degrees in agriculture with specialism in land use planning from the University of Pretoria, he was awarded membership to the Golden Key International Honour society for academic excellence. He also completed an intensive diploma in oil palm plantation management and technology (with first class distinction) from the Malaysian Palm Board. Jon currently resides in Uganda.


Please do contact us with any queries you may have. We are always here to assist in any way we can.

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Agricona Ltd.
Unit 1, 2 Polworth Road
London, SW16 2EU
United Kingdom

Tel (UK): +44 (0)7768 501 400
Tel (Uganda): + 256 7522 77556

Registered in England & Wales
Company number: 09893850