By Toyosi Ayodele
In Nigeria, Agriculture has always and continue to be a major contributor to the country’s GDP after crude oil. According to Statista, between January and March 2021, agriculture contributed to 22.35% of the total Nigeria GDP, an increase by almost one percentage point compared to the same period of 2020. Asides the GPD, agriculture provides employment and a source of livelihood for millions of Nigerians homes. Notwithstanding, awareness of the need for global food security and sustainable food production has created a boom in the agricultural space giving rise to tech enable agricultural companies that are striving to contribute to combating global food crises.
While Agribusiness is all-encompassing, the agro commodity trading value chain offers promising prospects for foreign revenue generation and food circulation. However, a decent number of crops cultivated locally in Nigeria make the list of agro commodity crops for export. These crops are but not limited to Cashew, sesame, Cocoa, Ginger, etc, and the demand for these produce internationally makes it economically viable produce. For instance, Nigeria is rated as the fourth-largest producer of cashew nuts in Africa and sixth in the world, with 160,000 metric tons per annum, and is expected to reach 500,000 metric tons by 2025. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics equally shows that sesame was the most exported agricultural commodity in the first quarter of 2021 with N42 billion worth of the crop exported and N3.4billion worth of oil extracted from the crop and Nigeria ranked third producer of sesame, topped by China and followed by India. These two crops primarily account for over 60% of the entire agricultural export in Nigeria.
Impact on Smallholder Farmers
Smallholder farmers are at the heart of food security, but sadly their contribution does not commiserate with their pay and livelihood as most smallholder farmers lives below the poverty line, this is why Agrorite is committed to working mainly with these farmers; providing them access to funds, training, and ensuring that their produce is purchase at competitive price by helping them with linkage to buyers. The success stories of our farmer’s network starting from Mr. Ule, a smallholder farmer in Benue state is the driving force of what Agrorite is doing and continue to do in impacting on their livelihood as well as increase their capacity for production.
Tech Enable Production
Agrorite, being a premium agritech company is positioned as a major player in the Agri sector and has contributed immensely to global food circulation, working with local producers of and not limited to Sesame, cashew, Cocoa, Maize, Sorghum and livestock. Furthermore, seeing the potential and importance of food circulation, Agrorite is not just limiting their activities to Nigeria as it has expand its operation to Guinea Bissau, Ghana, the Republic of Benin, and the United Kingdom as part of it expansion plan. This move has seen job creation in the value chain, particularly for smallholder farmers as a means of improving their livelihood, likewise, increase in the growing staff capacity of Agrorite. This is in addition to over 130,000 networks of farmers that are supported by Agrorite. We hope to double on our over 350,000MT of exported produce before the end of first quarter 2022 and expands the network of smallholder farmers from 130,000 across the continent.
Storage and Preservation
Preservation and storage are a huge part of the commodity trading business as it is understood to be the process of keeping agricultural products for future use as food, raw materials, fuel, or for sale and to maintain its original state while on the other hand, preservation is looked at as a process of keeping agricultural produce to avoid deterioration or spoilage by micro-organisms.
In Nigeria, agricultural produces undergo major post-harvest losses due to inadequate storage capacity and poor preservation practices. This eventually reduces the quality and value of the produce and price point. This produce is majorly cultivated by small-holder farmers with little or no education. Improving and maintaining a good quality of crops for export means that these farmers need to be trained and well equipped with modern storage and preservation techniques. Farmer’s training is not limited to storage but to producing the best quality of produce with the required moisture content. With over 40,000 capacity Agrorite warehouses strategically positioned across the nation, it is aiding to address storage facility challenges for farmers.
Access to Market
Being able to sell their produce is one of the hurdles every smallholder farmer has to across to in ensuring that their produce gets to the consumer and avoid post-harvest losses. This is an area where Agrorite has been able to leverage on her network of off-takers to provide these farmers with premium buyers both locally and internationally that off-take their produce at a competitive rate.
Enabling Environment for Trade
For every business and economy to thrive, government has to have a contribution. Good market penetration and access to the international market could be challenging due to a variety of political, economic, and regulations between domestic and international markets. Increasing challenges in accessing funds have been a major problem for small and medium scale enterprises who might have an interest in the sector due to capital requirements for the trade. This is where the government can set up initiatives for incentives to drive export and easy accessibility to chambers of commences. Furthermore, companies operating in this space are operating with limited capacity, expanding capacity will require more funds, expanded networks, and human resources. Private investors can take full advantage of this as key financial partnerships to drive scalability.
It is fair to say that these are exciting times in the agribusiness space. In contributing to strengthening the economy of Nigeria and food circulation, Agrorite is ever ready for opportunities to explore and join forces with other stakeholders in driving positive impact in the sector through partnership with both local and international processing companies, bodies, and even government agencies for collaboration. With our presence in over 25 states of the country, and based on statistics, the sector looks promising with a lot of potential for foreign revenue generation, growth, and job creation. We are positive that together we can achieve more and make agri business a gold mine.