By Morenike Taire
In Nigeria, with a teeming population of about 190 million people, it is no wonder that the Agric sector accounts for more than 20 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product, GDP. It also stands as the largest employer of labour in the country. While technology-based agro firms are embarking on radical approaches to revitalise the agriculture sector, a few of the companies are actively contributing to the growth and adoption of modern technologies in that sector.
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And one firm among the lot that is making a huge impact, technology-wise, challenging the agricultural status quo, is FarmGate Africa, FGA, an agro-commodity aggregator platform that is poised to bring solutions to market access challenges faced by farmers across Africa.
The newly established firm has equally set a four-year agenda come 2023, to build agri-tech solutions that will enable the achievement of food security, sustainability and the growth of Agriculture in Africa. “Having looked inwards at the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in Africa, we are poised to change the narrative with swift approach in an attempt to increase patronage of local content through programs such as commodity purchasing and commodity trading,” says Kenneth Obiajulu, co-founder and Managing Director, Farmgate Africa at the unveiling of the platform held recently.
Although, being relatively new and waxing to extend to a wider coverage, their main objective is to provide a platform for local farmers to trade their commodities to investors in exchange for cash which also helps farmers tremendously to have direct access to markets as well as control over their produce.
Obiajulu also stressed that with the establishment of the platform and other projects streamlined, FGA has placed itself at the forefront of challenging the poverty problem in Nigeria head-on, saying for Farmgate Africa, the journey to eliminate global hunger by 2030 has just been launched.
With a vision to bring farmers closer to processors and international buyers, this curbs the loss caused by waste, among other factors, that farmers typically experience during agricultural transactions. That also, by extension, empowers farmers economically. However, the business of fighting global hunger is such a huge task and achieving it eventually requires a collective effort. Government with its organ responsible for management and protection of agricultural produce cannot do it alone.
The enormous challenge government agencies face in terms of fertiliser distribution and supply of farming equipment for farmers including livestock quarantine and healthcare, is such a huge one that often times, farmers lament. And this is where private firms and agro experts are leveraging, not only to proffer solution to such challenges with the up-to-date technology to bridge the gap, but also to impact the society with modern approaches to ease conventional farming methods and make food available for the people regularly.
Looking at FGA’s entrance into the scene including other platforms with similar initiatives, the ray of hope for indigenous farmers brightens. Farmers in the poultry and cattle sector often lament on mass loss of their livestock either through infrastructure challenges in the course of movement of produce, low patronage or long-term storage facilities. But with the commodity aggregator’s intervention, a farmer has automatically willed any unforeseen challenge to the middle man whose job is to relieve the farmer of his produce without stress.
It is also interesting to know that about 6000 cattle are slaughtered for consumption in Lagos State alone, says an agro expert, Livestock247.com. The firm’s boss, Ibrahim Maigari also stated that it is the largest consuming livestock market in sub-Saharan Africa.
Veering into the economic perspective of the large number of cattle consumption in Nigeria alone, he was of the view that more needs to be done to get the animals well protected. He stressed that the firm’s target is to produce in excess of 24,000 bulls through 1,200 feedlot clusters in a year and the essence is to provide a platform for buyers of livestock to purchase traceable and fit-for- slaughter livestock from anywhere and at any time without inconveniences.
He also stressed that it will give sellers of livestock a borderless reach and access to market while giving veterinary professionals access to livestock owners for disease surveillance and epidemiology, providing financial service providers with an opportunity to fund investments in the livestock sector.
However, FGA and Livestock247 having signed a partnership agreement, will deepen deployment of funds in the vital areas of production and marketing. Farmgate Africa sees this as a welcoming development in fostering seamless trading in livestock and farm produce between the distributing channels and consumers.
“This partnership as a whole will deepen the offerings in the agricultural space in terms of proper organisation and profitable deployment of funds to key areas of production and trading. On the production end, it will also see the piloting of first ever cattle feedlot in Adamawa State. The initial phases have been quite successful and this sees the businesses scaling production to over 24,000 bulls with about 1,200 feedlot clusters in the North-East, North-West and Southern parts of Nigeria operating through feedlot systems,” says Obiajulu.
“Our goal has always been to collaborate with relevant partners in the agribusiness space to deliver value for both smallholder farmers and major processors/buyers. With our livestock portfolio, we have received substantial orders from notable key accounts that require bulls which meet with specific criteria. We have anchored a relationship that sees trading in excess of 20,000 bulls in over 10 abattoirs in Lagos for the fiscal year 2019 and our vision is a shared one that sees us developing the marketing together both from a production and marketing point,” Obiajulu added.
Meanwhile, such collaboration will empower livestock farmers through the feedlot programme, and also a response to the call by the Federal Government to key into the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) through intensification of livestock production.