AS the world continues to embrace technology as the driver of human development, one sector that has been earmarked for transformation in Nigeria is the agricultural sector as stakeholders across public sector and private establishments have already begun taking steps to the effect.
At an interactive session which brought together key players in the agricultural sector, public and private experts expressed the need for synergy of efforts in ensuring that agriculture in the country achieves its potentials that the advancement of technology promises.
One private outfit that appears to be positioning itself as a figure in using technology to drive agricultural businesses is a leading agri-tech company, Voriancorelli, with its online aggregating platform for stakeholders in the agro business.
The company is a creating an enabling platform with its newly launched app where buyers and sellers in the agriclutarual sector can meet and do business without having to see one another.
The interactive session which also doubled as the launch of digital platform, Voriancorelli, witnessed the presence of bigwigs in the agricultural sector, with many of them commending the move by Voriancorelli to create a marketplace for agricultural commodities while matching buyers, sellers, commodity aggregators, logistics partners, financiers and food processors to do business securely.
Speaking at the event which was themed ‘Pushing the limit’, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Abisola Olusanya expressed the readiness of the government to partner with the private sector especially on groundbreaking achievement such as a digital platform for agricultural stakeholders.
According to her, there is need for market transformation to be resolved so as to help farmers and aggregators have easy communication with buyers and those who are willing to invest.
“We should begin to look at a call centres for farmers where you can place a call to farmers in Kebbi and tell them the specifications of the things you need. Then the trucks will come into Lagos and we will start solving some of the problems facing the agricultural sector.
“Lagos is the market place and specifically when it comes to rice and we are building the second largest mill in Africa which is about about 32 metric tons per hour. So in terms of logistics and market, Lagos is wheee What this means is that Rice is the second most traded commodity in the world. In terms of food security in the world. In Nigeria, we consume over seven million metric tons of rice annually. With the push by Fedearal Government to ensure that there is no more importation of rice
Corroborating the words of Olusanya was the Chief Executive Officer of Crop It, Sandy Eyal who commented on the growing Nigerian population and the need for a structure and collaborations to make produce desired results.
“Nigeria is a fast-growing market but it is not feeding herself. Nigerians must begin to grow in a way that it will attract the market. The must be a working structure that helps the country to grow its agricultural sector. Nigeria must foster more collaborations.”
Speaking at the event that had aggregators and farmers from different parts of the country converge on Raddison Blue, Victoria Island, Lagos State, the Chairman of Voriancorelli, Mr Bolaji Akinburo disclosed that the app has been built to make farming more easy and accessible for everyone who dreams of going into agriculture.
According to him, this company will connect businesses with opportunities that would help them grow and stabilise, adding that this app will solve the problem of market linkages
“We have created a methodology that can move business very fast, not only in Nigeria but even outside the shores of Africa. We put the app in the market since October and it has been running now for three months. We are glad to be taking this to the full market rate because we have seen the progress it made in the last three months”, he said.
The Managing Director of Commodities Exchange, Lagos State, Mr Akinsola Akeredolu, stated that the help of the banking sector was needed to fully exploit the opportunities made available by technology.
“The banking sector is not banking agriculture. They must support the agricultural sector by providing financial facilities which will help actualise these ambitions and propositions.”
In his submission, Managing Director, Voriancorelli, Mr Rufus Udechukwu disclosed that the country must get things right if it would get over the challenges facing the agricultural sector, adding that “We cannot be doing things the same way and expect a different result. Times have changed and Nigeria must change its approach to agriculture to meet the demands of the day to address the imbalances in the sector.”
He hinged the problem on lack of transparency, inefficiency and unfair pricing mechanism, saying the problems generated a lot of challenges and hiccups for key operators in the sector.”
The food processors have the problem of constant supply of raw materials and huge cost of processing their commodities. He charged the government to tackle the problem of inconsistency of policies that could hinder the progress of the sector and create an environment where aggregators and farmers could work hand in hand.
Speaking for Bank of Industry, Mrs Victoria announced that the bank was partnering with Voriancorelli to provide funds for agricultural players to access, especially in the face of COVID-19 and its severe economic implications.
“We already have been making funds available due to the global pandemic and we are glad to be working with Voriancorelli on funds provision so that people on the platform can have access to money.”
Voriancorelli team lead,Mr. Rufus Udechukwu, further expatiated on the dream of the team that: “Nigeria has to move from agriculture to agribusiness.
“We need to grow as a country on agricultural fronts. It is why we want to create instruments in the marketplace, a platform for every player to meet, do business and drive growth.”
Also present at the event were Voriancorelli’s Chief Commercial Officer, Ms Jenifer Onyebuagu and its Chief Operating Officer Mrs Adesuwa Nosa-Ehima.
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