July 26, 2019

We account for 45% of disease-free cows consumed in Lagos daily – Farmcrowdy boss

We account for 45% of disease-free cows consumed in Lagos daily – Farmcrowdy boss

…explains reason for merger.

By Chris Onuoha

Nigeria’s first Digital Agriculture platform, Farmcrowdy has grown over the years since inception. In a continued effort to boost food security across the Africa continent, the company recently announced a merger with its sister companies, Farmgate Africa and Agricsquare to create a bigger entity.

The CEO of Farmcrowdy, Onyeka Akumah in an exclusive chat with Vanguard highlighted the firm’s success story and the significance of the merger. Excerpts:

We decided to build subsidiaries of our business to focus on different problems that we have identified such as market access, production, technical knowledge for the farmers and others. Farmcrowdy still sits on the production aspect of the company’s running while we created Farmgate Africa to oversee the market access. Farmgate Africa became a vital tool for the technical expertise we needed and Agricsqaure serves as a community hub where agro enthusiasts relate and discuss. It’s really a fantastic work. It allowed us to attract talents to do the team work and more capacity in other areas beyond production.

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The merger of all the subsidiaries is to become one big Farmcrowdy. There is no difference between staff of all the organisations because they are under one umbrella as Farmcrowdy Group. What we did was to let Farmcrowdy focus on the production while farmgate continues in the trade, but the heads and other team leaders will continue to do their job under the new dispensation.

During the merger announcement, the Managing Director of Farmgate Africa, Kenneth Obiajulu explained what Farmgate Africa has done till date and how they were able to manage the business. He noted that at the moment, the company has started beef processing with 2000 cows in a feedlot system.  “We now, have been able to move cows and bull from the northern part of Nigeria to processing facilities in Lagos for beef production, and supplying the three key outlets in Lagos. With 30% of the entire beef consumption on a daily basis in Lagos, we account for about 45% of cows slaughtered in our facility here in Lagos to supply to various outlets,” states Obiajulu.

“The advantage is that the entire cow on our platform is traceable, fit for slaughter and disease free. Our processors are comfortable to buy from us, than going to the open market where they can’t trace or be sure if a cow is disease-free before slaughter. We are also trading on ginger production for export,” Akumah added.

Explaining reasons for this all important merger between Farmcrowdy and its subsidiaries as one entity, Akumah said:

It is has been in our plan to create subsidiaries and later merge, but we decided to do it earlier which is this period because the advantage of doing it earlier is to consolidate the effort of what we have done so far. November is our anniversary when we have wanted to effect the merger, but because the harvest season will be over soon, we did it earlier so that we can enter the harvest season for effective production.  The merger became easier because the entire ownership of farmgate is Farmcrowdy and all are operating under one house.

This is also a very significant step for Farmcrowdy as it will allow the combined entity to have a stronger foothold in the Agriculture value chain, by dealing with core crop farming processes, production and trading side of commodities as well as marketing media for agriculture.

The combined companies will now be referred to as Farmcrowdy, and shortly after the announcement, all sponsorship options available from both platforms; Farmcrowdy and Farmgate Africa, will now reflect on the combined Farmcrowdy Platform. Sponsorship options in these areas; Beef processing, Ginger farms, Cattle farms, Poultry farms,’ that are previously available via Farmgate Africa and Farmcrowdy, will now be open to sponsorship on the Farmcrowdy platform for both entities. Agricsquare will however continue to be run as a product of Farmcrowdy – the largest community of Agriculture enthusiasts in the country with over 20,000 people engaging daily to discuss agriculture-related topics.

Speaking on the challenges faced by the firm within the onset of establishing the organisation, Akumah stressed that challenges are very inimical in every business and organisation and one that the company have grappled with from onset is finding the right people to work with. “When we built the subsidiaries, it allowed us to attract the talents we wanted.  The likes of Kenneth, Linda and other reputable hands were attracted through this process.  The subsidiary process allowed us to build this team from the smaller team built,” says Akumah.

Another challenge is regulations. The merger has exposed Farmcrowdy as a forefront crowd funding platform and we have to deal with how the crowd funding is regulated. When you are starting out a new sector from the old one, the problem faced will be how you will be regulated and the merger has taken us to handle those responsibilities. Secondly, we have been invited by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) to talk about our business and how the space will be regulated which will inadvertently help in future stock enlisting.

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We dealt with this challenge by being transparent as much as we can.  We are also aware of a crowd funding association that are being set on a continental level to champions the cause of doing crowd funding from the private sector.  We have been invited to all these team and as well dealing how to get our new sector regulated.

What I may call an unforeseen challenge within the context of the company’s establishment is some of the spurious information disseminated on some social media platform concerning how Farmcrowdy operates its businesses.

We honourably decided to downplay such false claims because at Farmcrowdy, our main focus is to grow the business, speak about it and let our talks march our deeds. At some points when people doubt our existence in the field, we usually direct them to go and see things for themselves in our numerous farms all over the country to counter such spurious claims. But I believe such malicious publications which however, meant to challenge out existence is healthy in any thriving business as a juxtapose of our strength. However, we are more concern about living up our vision and mission, creating the enviable value chains for the agro industry, creating employment for our teaming youths rather than paying heed to lip service.