Nigeria is nowhere close to attaining food security, and this is no secret. Very recently, President Muhammadu Buhari encouraged more people to venture into farming and increase farm produce “so that we don’t have to import,” as Nigeria has no money to import foods.
However, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Farmcrowdy, Christopher Abiodun, thinks that attaining food security in Nigeria is much more than having more farmers.
Speaking as a guest at the Nairametrics Business Half Hour, Abiodun notes that there is a lot of waste along the Agricultural value chain in Nigeria, due to the dearth of processing and storage players in the chain.
“There is a lot of planting going on, but there are a lot of post-harvest losses so it goes beyond planting. Most farmers don’t have where to sell their produce, and even if they do, they don’t know how to get it to where it supposed to be sold. The result is that we have as much as 40% waste across the value chain.”
He further explains that Nigerians need to think more about venturing into processing and preservation, instead of more planting. Some farm produce perish within 48 hours or less if they are not gotten across to the end consumers, so building a processing plant close to the farm will help largely reduce some of the post-harvest losses.
Everybody wants to get land and start planting, but there are many places to key into the value chain that can help the entire results. Access roads to the farm can also work wonders for the entire agriculture food chain. There is a lot of support coming from the government and CBN for farmers coming through the enablers, but support has to be channelled into processing and proper storage.
Farmcrowdy and food security
In January 2016, Onyeka Akumah reached out to his friends and co-founders Ifeanyi Anazodo, Akindele Philips, Christopher Abiodun, and Temitope Omotolani with a new idea to connect farmers to funds. Together, the team had experts in tech, data, finance and agriculture who left their jobs to get the business off the ground.
By November 14, 2016, Farmcrowdy commenced operations as an agri-tech platform to help small farmholders achieve food security by crowdsourcing funds from individuals, and helping the farmers with the necessary technology to boost food production.
“What we discovered is that instead of giving farmers the money, it is better to buy input and take to them and teach them how to use to achieve needed results. Then we mop up harvest and move it to buyers,” Abiodun explains.
At the end of the farming cycle, sponsors receive their capital with 40% of total returns, farmers get 40% returns and the company keeps 20% of the returns.
By early 2019, in a bid to shed off the capital-intensive model, the crowdsourcing platform was separated from the agri-tech company, making Crowdyvest different from Farmcrowdy. Under the new structure, Farmcrowdy structured finance provides farmers and low-income earners with small loans or small capitals to farm; Farmcrowdy aggregation moves the products from the farm gates to the processors after the harvest; Farmcrowdy marketing helps different small holders or small scale businesses to push their products out into the market using topnotch marketing strategies.
Farmcrowdy Insurance connects farmers to insurance companies so that they can insure their health, farms, farm produce; while Farmcrowdy technology & data services all other arms by getting and keeping data which will later be used to make informed decisions.
The lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 brought up a new business model for Farmcrowdy. People could not go out to get food for themselves. Farmcrowdy foods was launched in April as a B2C to allow users order food and meat from the app and have them delivered at their doorsteps.
Farmcrowdy as an agri-tech company does not deal with individual farmers, but with farming communities and associations that will make it easier and more productive to hold the farmers accountable through their leaders.
There is sometimes the issue of trust, with the old farmers wanting to stick with heir old methods and traditional ideas of farming. Abiodun says they handle the trust issues by using some plots of land to run pilot studies where the farmers can now see the improved production process and results.
“If you can show them something that works, then they will come to trust the process,” Abiodun said.