By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
One of the leading commodities exchange companies, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Tuesday, launched a 5-year Impact Report, indicating positive change in the lives of over 159, 000 farmers.
This was made known during the launch held virtually via Zoom, where the Chief Executive Officer, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Ayodeji Balogun, explained how the journey started, where it is, and the future, with passion to reach out to about 1 million farmers as target.
According to him the Impact Report also shows 200,000MT in trades, matching orders from producers and brokers with buyers on the company’s trade.
He said: “AFEX started with a long-term commitment to support Nigeria’s food security while promoting a fair exchange of value among players in agricultural value chains.
“We have been working since 2014 to devise strategies and processes that support inclusive and efficient trade of agro-commodities. A key aspect of that work is unlocking capital for Nigeria’s commodities market by deploying a robust market infrastructure, and technology to drive financial inclusion and alternative investment opportunities.
“In fulfilling these goals, over the last five years, we have built a network of over 160,000 farmers and cumulatively facilitated over 200,000MT in trades, matching orders from producers and brokers with buyers on our trading platform at fair prices.
“Our laser-focus on early intervention and education through AFEX’s technologies, significantly helps to unlock the potential of key players in the agricultural value chain.”
Meanwhile, he also pointed out that AFEX is committed to support Africa’s food security by contributing tco United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1,2,5,8, and 12.
“Consequently, the agreement of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has laid out a universal agenda that aligns with our vision for a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.
“Our founding goal at AFEX – to support Africa’s food security – has seen our operations poised to strongly contribute to SDGs 1,2,5,8, and 12 – advocating for no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and sustainable production and consumption.
“Measuring our impact is now more important than ever. It is inherently about value creation and creating a more systemic and sustainable change.
“Helping farmers, processors, traders, brokers, investors, fulfil their potential, whether through boosting agricultural productivity, enabling farmers’ access to credit and markets or through the creation of a fair and efficient market for trading commodities, is key to our corporate responsibility”, he stated.
On SDG 5 focusing on Gender Equality, according to him AFEX has always been deliberate in the space of gender inclusion and equality.
“Ranging from its services specially crafted for women smallholder farmers to the engagement of females in its workforce and their representation in executive roles. While legally women are equally allowed to own and use agricultural land in Nigeria, culture, and practice in many regions in Nigeria is different. While women work on the land, they frequently are not the owners and do not have control over proceeds.
“In Nigeria, where women account for 75 per cent of the farming population, Dija Sanni, a woman in her late thirties, has already overcome gender bias and prejudices associated with women in agriculture to become the leader of the Nasara Women Association of farmers. But the 6-year old association has still faced the challenge of accessing credit and loans for its members.
“In response to the gender inequalities female farmers’ experience, AFEX has been active in the Nasara Women Association for 6 years – assisting female farmers to increase productivity through access to fertilizer stocks and loans from a bank or microfinance institution. This allows women like Dija, to afford inputs like fertilizer to improve their farming. They can deposit their crops and access credit to invest in their farms and generate more income”, he added.
However, he pointed that poverty eradication and achieving food security remains a global challenge, but AFEX has deployed Input Financing Programme, IFP, as partnership platform with micro finance banks to provide credit and other incentives as a way to enhance farmers’ productivity.
“Eradicating hunger and achieving food security remains a challenge globally and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has not made things any easier. Smallholder farmers, although producers of food, continue to be the ones most at risk, as many live in poverty and food grown on their farms is often only available in certain seasons. Farmers are encumbered by a lack of access to inputs and credit that make a difference to their yields and productivity.
“Through our outreach structure, we have deployed our Input Financing Program successfully over a number of years. It began as a partnership, facilitated by AFEX, with microfinance banks providing credit, and world-class input providers providing quality inputs and education on agronomy. The Input Financing Program has, however, now evolved into a securitized note that is listed on the Exchange.
“Since its inception, over $4 million has been raised. Farmers who pass AFEX’s eligibility criteria are given loans as inputs (seeds, Crop Protection Products, fertilizer), and also receive extension support through the period of planting to harvest and repayment and trade through AFEX’s platform.
“The programme results in better productivity and yields, increasing the contribution of individual producers to the country’s food basket, and also delivering an improvement in livelihoods year on year that also cascades into more secure households and communities”, he said.
Meanwhile, revealing the factor behind the company’s success in the last five years, he said, “Key to our success over the years has been our ability to leverage technology to drive value chain management activities such as storage provision, outreach programs, input financing, and an efficient platform for trade.”
Speaking on future of AFEX, he (Balogun) said, “AFEX is looking forward to the next five years in anticipation. We are excited to monitor our progress and will be sharing updates through our various social media channels as well as our periodic publications.
“This journey with the SDGs will serve as a guide for AFEX’s 10x growth. Our vision remains to ‘Be the Reference Point for Commodities’ in Africa while retaining our core values of Excellence, Execution and Empathy.
“We are still focused on helping Africa feed itself, delivering impact on two levels. On a rural level, we will continue to support and build healthy, decent and profitable farming livelihoods.
“While nationally, we intend to increase food security, food safety and help Nigeria achieve self-sufficiency through well-functioning markets, ultimately contributing to a diversified Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We will continue to find innovative ways to deliver value across the ecosystem and look forward to establishing new relationships. This report will be a bi-annual publication over the next five years.”
The Chairman of AFEX, Mobolaji Adeoye also spoke on the bigger picture of the Impact Report, stating that, “One insight that the team and I have derived in perusing the report and going through the process required to create the impact framework is that AFEX’s model can deliver onthe promise and potential to lift millions out of poverty. AFEX is a marketplace that incentivizes players and allows value to be shared across commodity value chains. As the team launches the
“Impact Report today, we commit to continue tracking the impact of this marketplace as it not only lifts people out of poverty but works across the other SDGs – zero hunger, gender equality, decent work, and economic growth, and responsible production and consumption – all captured within the report.”