Dawodu Adeola is a licensed Canadian Realtor and a professional businessman with 10 years wealth of experience in diverse sectors which include agriculture, importing and exporting. In this interview, he speaks on the African Farmers Online, a network with a mission of bringing all farmers in Africa together under a technology, opportunities of having farmers under a strong platform and what Africa stands to gain from the concept. WALE OLAPADE brings details.
What’s AFO all about?
Africans are farmers and we are African Farmers Online, a Canadian Incorporation on a mission to empower and bring all farmers in Africa online, using technologies and agriculture.
We are not just a marketplace, we engage youths, create employments and entrepreneurs as we meet the needs of different communities by creating, promoting and providing agro-services beyond digital farming.
Our agro operations reinforce each other, creating a powerful network of assets, skills and systems.
In every African country, with a great deal of careful planning, communication, and local involvement, we plan and carry out boots-on-the-ground agricultural related services to accomplish our objectives as an agro services company. As we speak, we are finalising arrangement to start operations in Kenya, Ghana and currently we operate in Nigeria as A.F.O Agro Services Limited, a for-profit, Community and Economic Development non-Governmental Private Limited Company incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria combining local expertise, insight and global capabilities to deliver outstanding results.
In addition, we also own a repository for all African plants and hope to partner with the relevant academic and government agencies in Africa on that.
What’s the benefit for Africa?
The whole world is running a digital economy and this has changed the game for agriculture in Africa.
African farmers determine the continent’s digital farming story and it is a known fact that African smallholder farmers, most of whom have access to less than two acres of land, produce more than 80 per cent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa.
Our technology and services allow for genuine collaborations with them and other sectors allowing for a huge success and benefit from the digital revolution.
If we evaluate the benefits by economic value, our services and technologies foster innovation, market-linkages and knowledge-sharing thereby helping to create employments as well as raising new entrepreneurs which in turn promote economic activities, hence reducing poverty level in the system.
These benefits are enjoyed by all and not limited to digital entrepreneurs, smallholder farmers and rural populations.
How will access to digital technology impact on the farmers?
Through access to digital technology, the distance between a remote farmer and the market is shorter than a straight line. With a click, the buyer several miles away in either Europe or Asia buys in an instant by connecting to that smallholder farmer, who is the backbone of most of the African economies.
Do you have any partnership with stakeholders to make the value chain effective?
We are able to go into strategic partnerships with major stakeholders thereby ensuring we operate at every stage in the agricultural value chain. This in turn allows us to give the right support and encouragement so that Africans can lift themselves out of poverty.
A hub of all African Farmers puts Africa on good radar and makes it easy for buyers and sellers irrespective of their geographical location.
In a nutshell, we help in farm activities which in turn prevent mass hunger.
Whether you call it digital farming or smart farming, we are a solid improvement and a formidable part of the change that has the potential to bring about a big change on how farming is conducted and managed on the African continent. In turn, Africa as a continent benefits, in terms of reducing hunger and poverty, we also create employment for the youths with this programme.
How do you fund this?
Anything good costs money and the secret to getting ahead in life is to get started. We went to the classic, bootstrapping and started as a small business and hope to get ahead by growing into the big market when we have the required funds and partnerships because this is a huge online and technology -oriented venture that is destined to reach a large global market of which we do not have the required funding to launch our technologies and carry out other export related businesses.
Apart from …do you have any other brand name?
Presently in Nigeria we have trademarked called OWAMBE, a brand name and currently working on NAFDAC certification for a wide range of consumer goods and products for both local and export markets.
Even though we do not want to borrow, in order for us to scale we are considering and open to business loans, crowd funding, local contests and seeking strategic partnerships and grants.
How do you connect local farmers to AFO?
In Nigeria, we intend to have territory managers, who then work with associates in all the 774 local governments in Nigeria. These Associates are preferably Youth Corps Members. We hope to get a strategic partnership with the Corps Welfare and Inspectorate Department.
This team then works hand in hand with local farmers in all 774 local governments in Nigeria.
What’s the dream?
The dream is to empower and bring all African Farmers online by creating, promoting and providing agro-services that are more than digital agriculture.
In Nigeria, the OWAMBE brand is to become a trusted household brand name for agro-based and nutraceutical products.
Our dream is to replicate the same success in all African countries and as we speak we are in the final stages of kick-starting our presence in other African countries.
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