The Farmcrowdy Group on Tuesday launched Farmgate Africa, an agro-trading marketplace to improve farmers’ access to markets and processors, starting with Nigeria.
The Managing Director and co-founder of Farmgate Africa, Mr Kenneth Obiajuru made the announcement at the unveiling of Farmgate Africa in Lagos.
Obiajuru said that the initiative was to adopt agrictech and new technologies to bridge the gap between smallholder farmers and the market place and to increase quality food production.
He said that Farmgate Africa would provide major processors and international buyers an opportunity to purchase commodities directly from local farming clusters through technology.
“As part of bridging the gap in the agriculture value-chain caused by market access, the Farmgate Africa platform also serves the purpose of building relationships with local farmers.
“It also enables major processors to place orders through the platform without having to go through various layers of intermediaries, which is our business model.
“By doing this, Farmgate Africa optimises market access to African farmers and also improves their income by at least 30 per cent.
“We are leaning on the wealth of experience and operational expertise provided by Farmcrowdy Group.
“Farmgate will over the next two years focus on deploying funds across various market points.
“This will focus on beef processing and developing aggregation capacities across maize, soybeans, sorghum and dried-split ginger for markets in Nigeria, UAE and UK.”
Obiajuru identified major challenges facing farmers to include productivity, post-harvest losses and access to finance and marketing, noting that farmers were not given the financial inclusion they deserved.
Speaking on how to ensure quality of produce to meet international standards, Ms Tope Omotolani, a co-founder, said that the firm would mediate with multi-national companies and processors, who needed the commodity to get their desired quality.
“We will then train our in-house agronomists, who will now go to the farmers to twin farmers on the quality desired by processors.
”That way, the farmers will know what to produce per time, using new technologies and adopting good agricultural practices,” she said.
Mr Onyeka Akumah, the Founder and Chief Executive of Farmcrowdy Group, said the launch of Farmgate Africa as a subsidiary was as a result of the expectations placed on the group.
Akuma said that the firm would continue to provide innovations and build new solutions driven by technology to finance agriculture.
He said that farmers would not have to wait for the big processing companies to pay them for their goods because Farmgate Africa would have paid them within 48 hours.
“The initiative is another crowd funding mechanism. Farmers would have been paid, using investors’ money while we wait for the required 30 to 60 days before the processors paid for the commodities.
“It is another opportunity for the everyday Nigerian to fund the process of buying and selling what farmers have already harvested.
“This will give every farmer that has produced high quality farm produce the opportunity to sell to major buyers through the Farmgate website and improve their livelihoods,” he said.
Representatives of partners of the firm, including Sterling Bank, Best Foods Nigeria Ltd. and Technoserve, said they supported the vision of Farmcrowdy and would support its innovative methods of improving farmers’ income.